PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –
The Illinois Attorney General’s office finally reaches a decision in the Freedom Of Information Act Request For Review, sent to them in September 2012, after a denial of security camera footage by Crestwood School. (Original article on the FOIA Denial Here)
The footage requested was the result of a complaint we received over a child being left outside unattended.
The AG’s Determination
The AG has determined that Crestwood School does not have to release the footage for the following reasons:
a. They (AG) have determined its release would constitute a “substantial invasion of personal privacy” because disclosure was not consented to in writing by the subject of the information (video) – (or parents of the subject in this situation) and a child is in a “potentially embarrassing and distressing incident” (locked outside and trying to get back in).
b. IF the school district had the capacity to redact the video in order to obscure the identity of the child, then the “substantial invasion of personal privacy” might not apply.
c. The school district does not currently have the capacity to redact video footage (conceal faces in video).
d. The school district is not required to purchase the software and assistance for a request of this nature.
**The AG’s office and the school did state as fact, that the time the child spent outside the school was approximately three minutes.**
So my understanding of this is that either the parents needed to sign a release, or the school needed to possess the capability to redact video footage.
Appeal In Progress
I have decided to appeal this determination based in part on the following:
This determination was based on sub-paragraph 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(c) (personal information – unwarranted invasion of privacy, etc.). It also claims the school district is not required to purchase “sophisticated software” or “specialized assistance” to comply with this request. A simple PC and cheap video editing program would suffice for simple redactions on video and could probably be had for under $1000 or maybe even donated.
(1) When a request is made to inspect or copy a public record that contains information that is exempt from disclosure under this Section, but also contains information that is not exempt from disclosure, the public body may elect to redact the information that is exempt. The public body shall make the remaining information available for inspection and copying. Subject to this requirement, the following shall be exempt from inspection and copying:
The approximately three minutes of video in question contains information that is exempt (identification of the child trying to get back into the school) — it also contains information that is not exempt (everything else in the video that does not identify the child) — the school may elect to redact the exempted information and SHALL make the remaining information available.
Doesn’t this mean that the school district can redact exempted information, but it must make the remaining information available?
Does the statute qualify that statement by saying “as long as it’s not too much trouble or takes different software”? No, it doesn’t.
What happens when it does not elect to redact? Can they simply withhold all the remaining information because they do not elect to redact the exempt information?
These are the answers I will be seeking, because a precidence set by the AG in this instance will have state-wide consequences for future instances of this type.