NEWTON, IL. (ECWd) –
During the January meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Jasper County Community School District #1, Superintendent Andrew Johnson talked about the issue of him possibly needing to hire a person to answer FOIA requests. We agree, and hopefully they will do a better job than he is.
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act requires that all public records must be made available to any person who requests them – with very strict limitations.
I submitted a request for “copy of all email addresses ending in ‘@jccu1.org’ – making it clear in the request that I was not interested in student email accounts – and he responded pointing me to the District’s website listing various email addresses of faculty and staff. While “some” of the records are found there, “some” of them are not found there.
In particular, at least one Newton Police Officer has an “@jccu1.org” email address, and so do all of members of the Board of Trustees. Who knows how many others are out there?
I explained this to Mr. Johnson after the board meeting when I approached the board table, without asking permission, to let him know about the deficiencies of his response to the FOIA request and that I still wanted a complete answer. Nobody called 9-1-1 this time.
Still not receiving an answer, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has determined that this situation warrants additional review (2018 PAC 51228).
With that being said, I am sure it will be turned over to the District’s attorney, who will write another colorful letter to try and justify not providing complete records, and will then submit an invoice for several hundred dollars to the District for his letter to the AG, which will then be talked about in the next meeting as “see how much these FOIA requests are costing us” types of comments.
What is wrong with correctly answering the request for records? A simple database query by the District’s fabulous IT guy would bring up the information in about 2 nanoseconds.
This is not the only FOIA problem in the District and we will publish additional articles detailing each and every one of them.
These should be discussed and made part of his annual performance evaluation due in a couple months.
See the AG’s letter to Mr. Johnson below:
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