PLAINFIELD, IL. (ECWd –
I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a simple thing – copy of comments left on a post on the school’s Facebook page.
Now it appears the PSD202 is prepared to spend public funds to keep those public records from the public.
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act defines public records as:
c) “Public records” means all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.
The Facebook page is the official Facebook page of PSD202, and electronic communications were received thru that page, and are therefore public records open to public inspection. This is no different than emails, phone messages, public comment at meetings, or letters written to the public body.
At the time of my request there were 8 comments, now there are 18 comments. The district has no right to keep those comments from the public.
The district claimed exemption 7(1)(f) – but these records do not fall under that exemption. There have been Court and AG Opinions on this subject that make it very clear these records are open to public inspection.
Section 7(1)(f) is “intended to protect the communications process and encourage frank and open discussion among agency employees before a final decision is made” Harwood, 344 Ill. App. 3d at 248. Which is equivalent to the Federal FOIA deliberative process Dumke v. City of Chicago,2013 IL App (1st) 121668, ¶14, 994 N.E.2d 573, 578 (2013). Communications with parties outside the agency cannot be characterized as intra-agency communications See Department of the Interior v. Klamath Water Users Protective Ass’n, 532 U.S. 1, 121 S. Ct. 1060, 1069 (2001). Illinois Attorney General Binding Opinion 15-002 also discusses this issue starting at the bottom of page 12. AG Binding Opinions 13-015 and 15-001 discuss it also.
I have sent a Request for Review to the Attorney General’s Office and will most likely file a civil suit to gain access to those records, depending on how long the AG takes.
It is a shame the public must go to these measures when the law is so clear.
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janniePosted at 15:18h, 29 February
I sometimes think public bodies have nothing better to do than stifle peoples’ ability to gain the information that they want.
I_take_umbrage_with_thatPosted at 15:31h, 29 February
The village of Plainfield also attempted in a very similar manner to hide and conceal comments last year on its Facebook page. Almost without exception those comments were critical of the village response in providing basic services. Instead of resolving the issues, the village just erased the comments.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that a village trustee is also the IT director of this school district.
G. BarracloughPosted at 15:53h, 29 February
“they be exempt from disclosure…”
Sounds like another Rhodes Scholar flexing his writing muscle!
sediquaPosted at 17:10h, 27 May
this is just the tip of the iceberg. They hide lawsuits, and all types of things. The school district is new, and hires very incompetent people.
sediquaPosted at 17:14h, 27 May
and by “hide” I mean they have the records sealed, so the public cant see what is really going on.
jmkraftPosted at 21:23h, 27 May
please explain how they “sealed” public records so we can go get copies of them