FOIA dispute in East Jordan

EAST JORDAN, Mich. — A former art teacher says that East Jordan Public Schools responded too quickly to a newspaper’s request to view her personnel files, while the district says it acted properly, according to the newspaper involved, the Petoskey News-Review.

The News-Review filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the district for a copy of the tenure agreement between the elementary teacher and the district. The teacher’s job was terminated in a round of layoffs in June, amid investigations into charges that she assaulted a child with a ruler, the News-Review reported.

The district mailed the material eight days later, which the teacher contends was in violation of the contract agreement between the district and the teacher’s union, the News-Review reported. The contract said that the district “shall take the maximum time allowed by law” to respond to a FOIA request for a personnel file, according to the News-Review.

State law says that FOIA requests must be answered within five days, but public bodies have the option of invoking a 10-day extension with due cause, the News-Review reported. The teacher said the district should have waited 15 days to release the files, according to the News-Review. Superintendent Susan Wooden said the district had no cause to request an extension, the News-Review reported.

The contract was expired at the time the FOIA request was made, and there is no replacement yet, according to the News-Review. School board members voted recently to deny the teacher’s grievance in the matter.


Petoskey News-Review, “Teacher grievance tossed by East Jordan school leaders,” Sept. 22, 2011