District must turn over email distribution lists
Today the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that the Mequon-Thiensville School District violated the Open Records Law when it refused to turn over lists of email addresses in response to a record request. The Court of Appeals ruled that “There is also no indication that the District engaged in any balancing test in its denial, and no specific legal or policy basis was given that suggested the records were protected from disclosure. The District’s stated reasons in its denial for withholding the records do not outweigh the strong public policy in favor of disclosure.”
This case marks the second time the District has lost on this same issue. Almost exactly one year ago, the Court of Appeals ruled that Mequon-Thiensville illegally withheld the list of email addresses it used to invite parents to attend an event, titled “The Talk: A Necessary Conversation on Privilege and Race with Our Children,” presented by Critical Race Theory advocates. Despite the loss in that case, the district continued to refuse to release email addresses on other distribution lists it used.
Mark Gierl, the plaintiff and Mequon resident who brought the case, commented “Judges have ruled against MTSD on this issue four times in a row. They need to stop wasting everyone’s time and money.”
“The law is perfectly clear that government distribution lists – whether emails, phone numbers, or mailing addresses – must be released to record requesters,” explained Tom Kamenick, President and Founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project, which represents Gierl.“Government custodians need to stop obstructing the public’s access to this information.”