ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Rhode Island School District for Withholding Public Records

October 5, 2005 12:00 am

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Foster-Glocester Officials Failed to Turn Over Documents on Military Recruitment Policies, ACLU Charges

PROVIDENCE, RI — The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island announced today that it has taken legal action against the Foster-Glocester School District for violating the state’s open records law by withholding documents detailing its policies on releasing student information to military recruiters.

“The school district’s failure to respond to four requests for clearly public information is inexcusable,” said ACLU volunteer attorney Karen Davidson, who filed the lawsuit in Superior Court yesterday. “I am hopeful that the court will send a message that there are consequences for such blatant violations of the public’s right to know.”

At issue in the lawsuit is Foster-Glocester’s failure to release documents pertaining to the school district’s compliance with a provision in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB Act requires school districts to provide student names, addresses and phone numbers on request to various branches of the U.S. military for recruiting purposes. However, that same law also requires that schools give both parents and students the opportunity to not have that information disclosed without written parental consent.

This summer, the ACLU of Rhode Island surveyed school districts in the state to assess their compliance with this provision of the Act. The ACLU sent open records requests to every public school superintendent in the state requesting copies of the school district’s policies governing the release of directory information to military recruiters, and any documents given to students and/or parents apprising them of their right to opt out of having this information provided. Foster-Glocester was the only school district that failed to respond to the open records request, even after the ACLU sent four letters to School District superintendent Mario Cirillo.

The ACLU lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Foster-Glocester to turn over the records.

For more information on the ACLU’s survey of policies in other Rhode Island school districts, go to:

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