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Queens Chronicle

UFT sues DOE over redacted emails

DOE says items exempted from FOIA

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Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:30 am

The United Federation of Teachers announced it is suing the city Department of Education, accusing it of violating the Freedom of Information Act by releasing heavily redacted emails between former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and other political figures.

On May 28, 2010 the UFTrequested copies of all emails from Dec. 1, 2009 through that date sent between two or more of the following individuals: Joel Klein, John White, Kathleen Grimm, Michael Duffy, Christina Grant, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform Joe Williams, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center James Merriman and mayoral aide Bradley Tusk.

The DOE provided the emails in April, but many of them were redacted.

The DOE said the deleted parts of the emails conain records that fall under statutory exemptions found in FOIA, including information related to collective bargaining, violations of personal privacy or information related to law enforcement investigations.

But the UFT suit accuses the DOE of failing to prove that the redacted information met the FOIA exemptions and the union is asking for the courts to render a decision.

“At the Department of Education, information is rarely free, particularly when important issues are involved,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.“Like dozens of other organizations, from parent groups to the city’s media, the UFT has struggled to get the DOE to live up to its obligations to make public information public, and we have asked the courts to intervene.”

The UFT is seeking an order for the DOE to release a detailed log of the privileges and exemptions the agency is citing for every redaction, and for the DOE to submit the unredacted records for an “in camera” review — a court proceeding done outside of public view, often dealing with sensitive information.

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