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Delaware Department of Justice
Attorney General
Kathy Jennings

 Archived Posts From:  July 1997

97-IB14: FOIA Complaint Against Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education

Complaint alleged that the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education (“Red Clay”) violated the public records and open meeting requirements of FOIA because (i) Red Clay did not provide a copy of an amended contract with the Montessori School at a public meeting on June 2, 1997; (ii) Red Clay required the News Journal to make a written request to the District’s counsel before providing access to other public records requested on June 3, 1997; and (iii) Red clay withheld the minutes of the executive session meeting held on June 2, 1997. HELD: (i) Red Clay provided the contract within the time frames set by FOIA. No FOIA violation found simply because complainant felt the contract should have been provided at the meeting upon request, and prior to a vote—FOIA requires reasonable access, not instantaneous access; (ii) no violation of FOIA if a public body requires requests for records to be in writing; and (iii) where Red Clay went into executive session to discuss potential litigation over granting a school charter where the issue was covered heavily by the media and community residents threatened to sue the district if the charter were approved, Red Clay could reasonably conclude that open discussion with its attorneys of the legal issues surrounding the charter application would have an adverse affect on the Board’s position in potential litigation challenging the legality of the charter school. However, disclosure of the minutes would not defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session due to the minutes’ lack of specificity about the District’s litigation strategy.

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