Mequon-Thiensville School District Sued Again for Withholding Emails & Distribution Lists
District refuses to release its general distribution lists or even the mass messages it sends
Government distribution lists are a matter of public record, and so are the emails they send out to the public. For example, when your legislator sends out a mass mailing – whether by email or by letter – both the content of that message and the recipients must be disclosed. The public gets to know what the public’s servants are saying and whom they are trying to influence.
The Mequon-Thiensville School District doesn’t seem to understand this. Less than a month after the Ozaukee County Circuit Court ordered MTSD to turn over one of its email distribution lists, the district denied a similar request made by the same requester – Mark Gierl. Gierl requested emails sent to three distribution lists – alumni, recreation department participants, and its Momentum Newsletter list – as well as emails sent to those lists. Gierl, who is also a Mequon Alderman, made the request as a private citizen. Every member of the public has equal access to records like these.
MTSD not only refused to turn over the lists, it refused to provide any of the emails it sent to those lists, even after Gierl narrowed the time frame of his request. The district claimed it would be too burdensome to run the simple search necessary to locate those email messages. MTSD also claimed it could withhold its distribution lists because it appealed the ruling in the previous case so it remained pending.
“MTSD has no excuse not to turn over these records,” argued Tom Kamenick, President and Founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project, which is representing Gierl in both cases. “They can’t argue they’re worried that disclosure will interfere with parent-school communications, because these are broader lists of community members.”
“I find it shameful that MTSD wastes taxpayers’ money to defend their illegal conduct,” said Gierl. “They brazenly and repeatedly disregard the law.”