NJ DOE 2013 OPRA Log

Beryl Lipton filed this request with the Department of Education of New Jersey.
Est. Completion None
Status
Fix Required

Communications

From: Beryl Lipton

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Open Public Records Act ("OPRA"), I hereby request the following records:

A list of all requests filed with the Department of Education under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act (OPRA) during the year 2013. For each request, the list should contain the identity of the requester, the date of the request, a description of the requested records, and the status of the request.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 7 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Beryl Lipton

From: OPRA Custodian

Beryl,

Attached please find a record receipt concerning the above-referenced OPRA request.

Thank you.

Dominic Rota
Records Custodian
New Jersey Department of Education
100 Riverview Plaza, 4th Floor
Trenton, New Jersey
609-943-4599 Office

From: OPRA Custodian

Beryl,

Attached please find a record receipt concerning the above-referenced OPRA request.

Thank you.

Dominic Rota
Records Custodian
New Jersey Department of Education
100 Riverview Plaza, 4th Floor
Trenton, New Jersey
609-943-4599 Office

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello Mr. Rota,

Thank you for your response to my request for the Department of Education's log of 2013 OPRA requests. I hope that you can please clarify the reasons for which the request has been rejected.

It seems as though the list of requests, their statuses, and the other basic data necessary for inventory and organizational purposes (the agency’s OPRA log) is a standard government public record. As such it should be available under OPRA. As indicated on page 7 of the New Jersey Open Public Records Act Handbook for Records Custodians, “All government records are subject to public access unless specifically exempt under OPRA or any other law.” I don’t see the record in question as being specifically exempted by the case to which you referred nor was it covered by the specific exemptions contained in OPRA; the exemption for “information which, if disclosed would give an advantage to competitors” does not seem to apply in this case.

Page six of the attached version of the case referred to in your response (Gannett N.J. Partners, LP v. Cnty. of Middlesex, 379 N.J. Super. 205, 212 (App. Div 2005)) includes the reasoning mentioned in your rejection, specifically that “‘OPRA does not authorize a party to make a blanket request for every document a public agency has provided another party in response to an OPRA request,’ nor does it permit requests that would reveal ‘the nature and scope of a third party’s inquiry to a government agency.’” My request for the OPRA log does not ask for the documents provided to another agency. It would not be reasonable to assume that by obtaining a list of requests one would be able to determine the nature of another party’s interest and purpose in requesting particular documents. The idea, it seems to me, is that by obtaining all of the primary documents requested by a third party, one could then determine the nature and scope, which may also be unreasonable attitude, though is not relevant in this matter. I think along those lines, the idea of “advantage to competitors” based on the release of the OPRA log is a stretch, particularly considering that the log should be publicly available to all.

If you could clarify these points, I would appreciate it. I understand that the appropriate channel of appeal would be the Government Records Council, but the chance to understand the reasoning for denial would be helpful for all.

Sincerely,

Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: Beryl Lipton

Hello,

Yesterday, the case Scheeler v. Office of the Governor, et. al. was settled in Mercer County Superior Court. The case was in regards to the denials of release of OPRA logs by New Jersey state agencies (as occurred with this request), and the court ruled in favor of the release of the records. (For reports regarding this ruling please see: https://www.aclu-nj.org/news/2014/07/21/judge-orders-christie-administration-release-records ; http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/ap/new-jersey-judge-to-decide-if-opra-requests-are-public/article_e155754c-10c0-11e4-955f-001a4bcf887a.html?utm_content=buffer157e5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer).

As indicated by this ruling, the denial that your agency provided me was unwarranted and I would appreciate the release of the requested material before any further undue inconvenience is incurred.

Thank you so much for your time and help,

Beryl C.D. Lipton

From: MuckRock

Hi there,

I don't believe I ever received these logs. Could you please provide them?

Thanks so much,
Beryl

From: Kathryn Duran

Dear Ms. Lipton,

I am following up on the email sent this morning to the NJDOE records custodian regarding a previous OPRA request . Please be advised the Scheeler matter you referenced is on appeal. No responsive records have been released and the Honorable Mary Jacobson stayed the release of the records pending the outcome of the appeal.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at the below number.

Thank you,
Kate

Kathryn E. Duran
Deputy Attorney General
Education & Higher Education
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
25 Market Street
P.O. Box 112
Trenton, N.J. 08625
Tel: 609-777-4861
Fax: 609-777-4036

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE The information contained in this communication from the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General is privileged and confidential and is intended for the sole use of the persons or entities who are the addressees. If you are not an intended recipient of this e-mail, the dissemination, distribution, copying or use of the information it contains is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately contact the Office of the Attorney General at (609) 292-4925 to arrange for the return of this information.

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