Taking a closer look at my FOIA denial

In 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 here. So my purpose here is to learn and understand more about the law under which we operate.

Here is the meat of the denial I am going to focus on (I am purposefully ignoring the section about Student Records and Personally Identifiable information):

“In addition, such documents are also exempt from disclosure since they are trade secrets or commercial information obtained from a person or business where the trade secrets or commercial information are furnished under a claim that they are proprietary, privileged, or confidential, and disclosure of the trade secrets or commercial information would cause competitive harm to the person or business. 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(g). In addition, such documents are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA since they constitute valuable formulae and research data obtained or produced by any public body when disclosure could reasonably be expected to produce private gain or public loss. 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(i).”

So we are dealing with two exemptions under FOIA law (5 ILCS 140/7(1)), ‘g’ and ‘i’. Before I hop over there, read the summary here carefully. Basically, Unit 4 is claiming that the school assignment data is proprietary (or privileged or confidential) trade secrets, and that they have valuable formulae which, if everyone knew about it, might be used for commercial gain. The way I read that is like “Intellectual property rights”, although I am no lawyer and I have no idea if that is even in the same ballpark, but that is what it makes me think of. So let’s go look at the what the reference Law says.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=000501400K7

And here is what the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has to say regarding the exemptions:

http://www.rcfp.org/illinois-open-government-guide/ii-exemptions-and-other-legal-limitations/exemptions-open-records-s-4

So first, Read the rest of this entry »

Financial accountability: one small step

Last week I was browsing for monies being spent on the “Educational Consultant”; the school district has been doing a good job of posting electronic check registers, but unfortunately, they were not organized at all, and only listed from respective regular board meeting agendas. So last Friday I asked for an index on all check registers, and this morning I was pleasantly surprised that they delivered one:

http://www.champaignschools.org/finance-registers.html

 

Woot!

 

Thanks to Stephanie Stuart and David Hohman.