The ACLU of Rhode Island has taken legal action against the Foster-Glocester School District for violating the state’s open records law. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court yesterday by ACLU volunteer attorney Karen Davidson, charges that district officials failed to respond to four requests from the ACLU for documents involving its compliance with a provision in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
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 RI ACLU surveyed school districts in the state to assess their compliance with this provision of the Act. To that end, the ACLU sent an open records request 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.
Beginning in July, the ACLU sent four letters to Foster-Glocester school district superintendent Mario Cirillo for the documents, but did not receive a response. Foster-Glocester was the only school district that failed to respond to the open record request.
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to turn over the records, as well as the imposition of fines and an award of attorneys fees pursuant to the open records statute.
Volunteer attorney Davidson said today: “The school district’s failure to respond to four requests for clearly public information is inexcusable. 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.”