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Delaware Department of Justice
Attorney General
Kathy Jennings

 Archived Posts From:  February 2001

01-IB04 RE: Freedom of Information Act Complaints Against New Castle County and the City of New Castle

The Complainant alleged that New Castle County and the City of New Castle violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by failing to provide it with copies of the first page of all uniform collision reports for specified time periods. Held: Because the party requesting the information was a non-profit association wholly owned by a Nevada company, it was not a citizen of Delaware and was therefore not entitled to invoke Delaware’s FOIA. In any event, and relying on case law from the Delaware Superior Court, the opinion holds that the requested documents fell within the “investigatory files” exception to FOIA’s definition of public records. No violation of FOIA had occurred.

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01-IB03 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Polytech School District

The Complainant alleged that the Polytech School District violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to post complete agendas for its meetings and failing to provide him with copies of the minutes of executive sessions. Held: With respect to the agendas, the district violated FOIA because it included the wrong reasoning for going into executive session on its agenda. The district considered collective bargaining negotiations to be a part of the FOIA authorization for executive sessions to discuss “personnel matters.” The opinion held that this was the wrong provision to rely on, and that because labor negotiations and collective bargaining agreements are explicitly exempted from FOIA’s definition of a “public record,” the board should have relied on the executive session authorization for discussions of documents that are excluded from the definition of public record, when “such discussions may disclose the content of such documents.” As for the minutes, the district was permitted to withhold them from the Complainant because disclosing the discussion would defeat the purpose of the executive session. The district pledged to utilize the correct reason for going into executive session in the future to discuss collective bargaining, and no additional remedial measures were ordered.

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