2013 School assignment data FOIA *DENIED*

I am beside myself. Here I have been requesting the same data for the past 4 years, and this year my request is at first misunderstood and when I followed-up, flat out denied. Why is this so hard?!? On top of that, the data I get back is a frickin’ image of data – not even raw data. It’s a picture of a couple pages of a spreadsheet which summarizes the results of the 2013 school assignment program.

 

Pattsi has been urging, cajoling and nearly begging me to go to the Public Access Coordinator (PAC) at the Illinois AG office. Ok, I am finally fed up with this stuff and will start down that path. So frustrating…..

 

Here is the basis for why I think the public owns much of this data, or at the very least, has the obligation and the responsibility to view it; all the money was paid out of the tax payer pocket. Maybe some money came from a grant (in the past, we used one of our grants, perhaps TAP?), but that is still tax dollars. Not only that, but the school assignment system is convoluted at best, and never really explained well (especially not in a language that most people can understand), thus it gives the appearance of total lack of transparency. Or in other words, opaqueness. Lots of parents have frustrations about school assignment, but I do not see those frustrations being addressed satisfactorily.

 

This is just so wrong.

 

I realize my emotions are running a tad high at the moment – it is easy to hop on the warpath and go hunting. So I plan to sleep on this. I just don’t understand why the district, and the school attorney, perpetuates an environment that is totally and utterly not user-friendly. The feeling I have from this experience is as if the district is saying “thank you for your money now go away.”

 

Response letter

data” *cough cough*

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11 Responses to “2013 School assignment data FOIA *DENIED*”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    *sigh* even Lockman’s letter is a image – I cannot copy/paste any of the information in the letter. Why oh why oh why….

    Anyway, the phone number for the PAC office given in the denial is incorrect. I ended up calling 312-814-3312 to get the Attorney General’s office, which then transferred me to the FOIA department. Ironically, the information on a PAC AG page has incorrect information as well – as of November 27th (no year given, but not 2013 🙂 ), Cara Smith is no longer the Public Access Counselor:
    http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/How%20to%20Submit%20a%20Request%20for%20Review.pdf

    I intend to follow the directions on this page and file an email request.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Here is the OCR version of the letter denying my FOIA:
    https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/misc/june-10-foia-denial-letter/

  3. Karen Says:

    Because maybe they are (still) using certain social measures that can no longer be used (in IL) as the basis for decisions of school assignment of students. This is of course speculation, but, this is what the secrecy and obfuscation associated with this lends itself to. Alves does have a social agenda worked into his methods and states so (I believe), . :shrug: It seems you are now front and center with what some others’ experiences with Unit 4 have been. And you probably thought it was over-kill or some ‘fault’ in these people when they took it to the next level. It shouldn’t have to be this difficult.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      You mean like using Race as a weighted measure? You know, this is an interesting topic and probably worthy of its own post, but in my own research I have found that many school districts want to use Race in order to comply with federal mandates of integration, but ironically it is unconstitutional to do so. Hence there is a slow slide away from mandated integration.

      In terms of this brick wall I am currently hitting… I will concede your point, Karen. 🙂 Although for the record I never thought that “these people” had some kind of fault – at least, no more fault than I myself have. I made the mistake of assuming that since I had requested this data for the past few years, I had set a precedent for what kind of data I am looking for and in what format. Apparently, I was wrong.

      Yes, I totally agree, it should not have to be this difficult. So why is it?

  4. Karen Says:

    Disclosure would produce ‘private gain or public loss’? Denial protects Alves’ private gain. http://www.enrolledu.net/

  5. Karen Says:

    Does Unit 4 (legally) have to have it written into policy the parameters they use for the school choices assignment process? As part of their ‘admission policy’ or something? Just talking out loud.

    ‘This module allows administrators to maintain an accurate and up-to-date seat control that identifies all available seats on a real time basis, and it ensures that these students who need a school assignment are assigned in accordance with the School District’s diversity guidelines and…’
    http://www.enrolledu.net/services/software-modules/
    http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/guidance-ese-201111.html
    I think explicit detailing of how social factors are weighted are a matter of public interest.

  6. 2013 Kindergarten Lottery preliminary observations | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] though the bulk of my FOIA was denied, the few images I did receive still has a tiny bit of meat to chew […]

  7. charlesdschultz Says:

    Here is the request for review I sent to the the AG PAC:

    Good morning,

    I formally request a review of an incorrectly denied FOIA request. The reason I ask for this review is because I firmly believe that the Champaign School District #4 has data that falls within the jurisdiction of the Open Information Act, yet the school district is attempting to not deliver the level of detail that I have requested.

    {…}
    I have attached the following emails:
    April 26th: my initial FOIA request
    May 3rd: initial response to my April 26th request (note the attached PDF imbedded in the email)
    May 3rd: my follow-up, stating that the response is not what I asked for
    June 10th: the final response in which a PDF with summary information is delivered, but detailed information is denied

    As indicated in my emails to the school district, I have been in receipt of similar data in years prior – I know what the data looks like, and I am fully aware that I cannot receive personally identifiable information. I was very specific I my request. I contend that the denial is not an appropriate response on several grounds:
    – Not all the data falls under either exception quoted by Mr. Lockman; for instance, there are data elements such as which school a registrant requested and which school the registrant was assigned to that is neither 1) PII, nor 2) divulge any sort of intellectual property rights that might affect the vendor’s gain in any way. This data was not provided in the response.
    – The vendor is paid by tax dollars. The program in question deals with placing children in public schools. Yet the algorithms for such placement are not available for public review?
    – The school district is touting words such as “transparency” and “openness”, but their actions are not commensurate with the words they use.

    It is my understanding that the intent behind FOIA is to give power to the public in order to hold public bodies accountable. It is my observation that the school district is attempting to hide behind exceptions that do not apply in this particular case.

    Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. If you wish to communicate via phone, my number is {…}.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

    Signed,
    Charles Schultz

  8. charlesdschultz Says:

    FYI – yesterday, the PAC copied me on a email sent to the school attorney (aka, FOIA officer). I appreciate how the PAC is taking this seriously, and am anxious to learn how this goes down. The PAC included a boilerplate “confidentiality notice”, but I have asked permission to post their response here. Not sure what the rules are about that, but I figure I don’t want to piss off the PAC when they are trying to help me. 🙂 The language they use in the email indicates that all correspondence is covered under FOIA, so to me it seems like making it public is not a big deal….

  9. Taking a closer look at my FOIA denial | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] regards to my previous post about my FOIA being denied, I have decided to dig into the law and learn some of the nitty-gritty details of what is going on […]


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