Bulldog in FOIA dispute with CPS over LSC candidates

The Welles Park Bulldog is seeking to force the Chicago Public Schools to release the nominating petitions of residents running for Local School Council in eleven schools, part of an effort by the on-line publication that pits privacy issues against the public’s right to know.

The Form 1-10, used by candidates for election to Local School Council

The Chicago Public Schools are claiming a form that states "the names and addresses of Local School Council members are a matter of public record" shouldn't be released to the Bulldog.

In a March 12th letter by Bulldog attorney Terrance Norton, Director of the Center for Open Government, to the Chicago Public Schools Freedom of Information Act Officer, Cassandra Daniels, the Bulldog requested the nominating petitions, known as Form 1-10, of Bell, Coonley, Ravenswood, Waters, Budlong, Chappell, McPherson, Courtenay, Lake View, Amundsen and Lane schools.

The form, which can be accessed here: [http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/LSC/Form%201-10%20Candidate%20Nomination%20Form%20-%20ENGLISH.pdf], includes information the school board claims is personal and subject to an exemption under the FOIA law. Norton said that although he has had telephone conversations with Daniels, as of March 23, Norton says the school board has not replied with a written explanation of its decision. Illinois law requires public bodies to reply to FOIA requests within five working days.

“I do not agree that the use of those exemptions is proper as to the requests for the nominating petitions,” Norton said. “My client works for an electronic media that seeks to educate parents as to the qualifications of LSC candidates; and he needs to get and disseminate the information prior to the upcoming LSC elections.”

“I find it disturbing that the schools ignored the initial request of attorney Norton,” Welles Park Bulldog Editor Patrick Boylan said. “The schools, which are charged with teaching the value of our constitution, are presenting students with an excellent example of government non-responsiveness to public demands as represented by enactment of the revised FOIA laws in Illinois.

“Second, it is difficult for citizens to evaluate the character and aims of candidates without an open accounting by the candidates,” Boylan said. Boylan noted that the decision by the school district to extend the date to accept LSC nominating petitions meant that in some schools, the LSC public forum could happen before the nominating process closes.

The school board encourages people to become involved in “democratic government” at the “grass roots” level, Boylan noted, but attempts to put roadblocks in place to community involvement.

The Center for Open Government, housed at the Chicago Kent law offices,exists to support citizens who seek to exercise the powers of their office. “Citizens need a constant stream of information to provide meaningful attention to the actions of government,” the center believes. The Center offers the legal resources necessary to empower those citizens and stands with them as they exercise the powers of their office.

The Welles Park Bulldog is an on-line publication that provides news for the Ravenswood, North Center, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood Manor, St. Bens, Ravenswood Gardens, Rockwell Crossing and Graceland West communities. It’s mission is to “engage and inform readers about the important issues of the day, while serving the information needs of the community.

“The site will be a place where neighbors can thoughtfully discuss the important issues of the day,” according to its mission statement.

Welles Park Bulldog was formed this month following a partnership decision to terminate the Center Square Ledger, of which Mr. Boylan was editor.

Related posts:

  1. LSC filing deadline extended as candidates become scarce
  2. CPS schools cut sophomore spring sports; Schools protest
  3. Welcome to your Bulldog
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Patrick Boylan

About Patrick Boylan

Patrick grew up near LaFollette Park on the West Side. He contends that the very best Italian beef sandwiches are made on the West Side and has a strange love of the flat pizza from that part of the city. Patrick led The Bulldog to win seven journalism awards in 2011, including four awards to Patrick as a solo or a team member. He is very proud of The Dog's coverage of politics and schools in the neighborhood. Patrick wrote for the Times of Northwest Indiana as a stringer covering Cook County Government, for the Chicago Tribune as a stringer on the Chicago Wolves and for ChicagoNow as a writer before starting The Dog. He wrote for four years for ChiTownDailyNews.org as a media commentator and spent about 20 years in operations at city newspapers, including nine years as owner of his own distribution company. Prior to that he spent about nine years in public relations. Patrick has a Masters degree from the University of Colorado. He attended Eastern Illinois University for undergrad and Weber High School and St. Peter Canisius grammar school. The two-flat he owns was built in 1912 and has never been featured, to his knowledge, in any major motion pictures despite having a way-cool garden. Patrick purchased the property in 1994 and "couldn't afford to buy it now." His daughter is a college student in California. He lives in the house with his wife, Jane, and two cats who often sit in on his phone interviews.

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