By: Diane Benjamin
On March 22nd I wrote about a document handed out to kids at BHS during their student walkout concerning gun violence: https://blnnews.com/2018/03/22/remember-the-student-walk-out-bhs/
This is the email that made me want to know what the document says:
The email says WE will provide copies.
Note also the email says the copies were given to Carys Lovell who must be a student since they decided students need to distribute it. That name will be important in a minute.
I sent District 87 a FOIA request for the document. It could be something as benign as calling for background checks. It could also be propaganda calling for an assault weapons ban without any context for what that means. Parents have a right to know what they handed to your impressionable kid!
This is the first response I received:
Does anybody believe the district made 200 copies and it only cost $1.68?
Why would any material be distributed without knowing the source?
I asked again for the document suggesting they ask the student who gave it to them for a copy. Now remember the name above, because according to their next email it would be a violation of the law for them to disclose the name – even though I never asked for it.
Since this response is long, I copied it instead of posting a picture:
I am sending this email in further response to your reply to my response to your request for a document you describe as “Take Action 4 Sensible Gun Reform.pdf” which your request describes as having been “distributed to students on March 14, 2018.” In addition to the document itself, you requested “[a]ny documents showing the source and cost of this document including making copies.”
I advised you earlier today that I could not find a copy of the document you requested; that the document was not used for any official school purpose; that students (not the District) used and distributed the document; that neither Mr. Moore, Dr. Reilly nor I had maintained a copy of the document; and that I was still waiting to hear whether any other high school administrator kept a copy. While the District spent approximately $1.68 making 200 copies of the document for a student, I do not believe it is a public record “pertaining to the transaction of public business” and therefore subject to the provisions of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Despite this, I attempted to get you a copy of the document to the extent one of the District’s administrators had maintained a copy. I further informed you that if I found a copy maintained by the District I would forward it to you immediately.
You responded by stating: “Ask the student who gave it to you!”
I am willing to cooperate in providing you with a copy of a document which is not a public record subject to FOIA and not in the custody or possession of the District; however, I do not believe I have an obligation to request the document from a student under FOIA.
FOIA defines a “public record” as “all records . . . pertaining to the transaction of pubic business . . . 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” (5 ILCS 140/2(c)). The document you are requesting was not prepared by or for the District, was not used by the District, is not in the possession of the District, and is not under the control of or maintained by the District. At this time, I am not aware that any administrator who may have received a copy of the document has maintained it.
Furthermore, your initial FOIA request seeks information regarding the source of the document. I told you a student provided it and any disclosure of that source would be in violation of the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Illinois School Student Records Act (ISSRA) since it would disclose personally identifiable student information (FERPA, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99 and ISSRA, 105 ILCS 10/1 et seq.). Disclosure of the “source” is exempt from disclosure under Section 7(1)(a) of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act which exempts disclosure of “[i]nformation specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law. . . .” 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a). Therefore, I deny any further information related to the student source of the document you are requesting.
David Wood, FOIA Officer made this determination.
The document was “prepared” when the district used their equipment to copy it.
Parents of District 87 kids should be concerned because Amendments to the Constitution are Rights. Rights aren’t up for negotiation, especially when recent shootings were caused by the failure of government to do their job. Current laws were not used, so more laws would be useless except to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens.
I wonder if District 87 will copy pro-life information and allow students to distribute it?
This isn’t over.