Escalator Maintenance at Stuyvesant High School

Hugo Smith filed this request with the Department of Education of New York City, NY.
Tracking #

F14,997

Est. Completion Jan. 16, 2020
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Hugo Smith

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, I hereby request the following records:

All emails, memorandums, documents, maintenance requests, and text messages regarding the escalators at Stuyvesant High School (345 Chambers Street, New York, New York) between 8/1/18 and 9/15/18.

I am also requesting any other documents regarding the safety, and concerns about the safety, of the escalators at Stuyvesant High School created, responded to, or edited between 8/1/18 and 9/15/18.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, 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 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Hugo Smith

From: Department of Education

Hello-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Department of Education

Hello-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Hugo Smith

I would like to clarify that I am no longer interested in text messages.

People (or job titles) that I am clarifying for your search are:
- Eric Contreras
- Brian Moran
- Any maintenance or janitorial staff.

From: Department of Education

Hello-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Department of Education

Hello-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Department of Education

Hello-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Hugo Smith

New York Freedom of Information Law N.Y. Pub. Off. Law Ch. 47 Art. 6 § 89(3a) specifically requires that an agency provide either the documents requested or a new approximate date by which the request will granted or denied.

By failing to respond to this request within the legally-mandated time frame, this agency is in violation of the law.

Please provide acknowledgement of this request and the responsive materials forthwith. If such materials cannot be produced, please provide an appropriate explanation for this rejection, as is dictated by this agency's legal obligations under the New York Freedom of Information Law. Your accelerated attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.

From: Hugo Smith

New York Freedom of Information Law N.Y. Pub. Off. Law Ch. 47 Art. 6 § 89(3a) specifically requires that an agency provide either the documents requested or a new approximate date by which the request will granted or denied.

By failing to respond to this request within the legally-mandated time frame, this agency is in violation of the law.

Please provide acknowledgement of this request and the responsive materials forthwith. If such materials cannot be produced, please provide an appropriate explanation for this rejection, as is dictated by this agency's legal obligations under the New York Freedom of Information Law. Your accelerated attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.

From: Department of Education

Mr. Smith-

Please see the attached concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Hugo Smith

This is an appeal under New York's Freedom of Information Law regarding request #F14,997.

My request was partially fulfilled; however, part of my request was for "all emails... regarding the escalators at Stuyvesant High School (345 Chambers Street, New York, New York) between 8/1/18 and 9/15/18." I later narrowed this to emails from/to Eric Contreras, Brian Moran, and/or maintenance or janitorial staff.

I did not receive any emails, so I am appealing this portion of the response. Please let me know if no such emails exist or if they exist but are being withheld. If they are being withheld, I ask that they be released.

Sincerely,

Hugo Smith

From: Department of Education

Good afternoon,

Please see the attached appeal determination concerning the above referenced matter.

Sincerely,

Milena Schatzle
Agency Attorney and Deputy Records Access Officer
New York City Department of Education
Office of the General Counsel
Privacy & Records Access Unit
Mschatzle@schools.nyc.gov

From: Department of Education

Please see the attached appeal determination in response to your letter dated August 16, 2019.

Milena Schatzle
Agency Attorney and Deputy Records Access Officer
New York City Department of Education
Office of the General Counsel
Privacy & Records Access Unit
Tel: (212) 374 0220
Mschatzle@schools.nyc.gov

From: Department of Education

Good afternoon,

Attached please find a letter regarding the above referenced FOIL request.
Regards,
Yolanda Mackey

From: Department of Education

Mr. Smith-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Department of Education

Mr. Smith-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Department of Education

Mr. Smith-

Attached is a letter concerning your FOIL request.

Thank you.

Natacha Beaufils
Dept. of Education
Office of Legal Services

From: Hugo Smith

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I hereby appeal the denial of access to records regarding my FOIL request #F14,99, which was made on 9/15/2018 The records that were denied include correspondence regarding the escalators at Stuyvesant High School (345 Chambers Street, New York, New York) between 8/1/18 and 9/15/18.

Your office states in its letter dated January 23, 2020 that it is denying access to responsive correspondence records under Public Officers Law (POL) § 87(2)(e)(i) because "the subject matter of this request is under investigation by the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI)," and the release of the responsive records "would interfere with this pending investigation." This is an invalid denial for multiple reasons.
POL § 87(2)(e)(i) states that an agency may deny access to records that "are compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would ... (i) interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings."

First, to deny access to responsive documents under § 87(2)(e)(i) they must have been "compiled for law enforcement purposes." An opinion issued by the Committee on Open Government (FOIL-AO-19480) found that "to contend that records which were generated for purposes wholly unrelated to any law enforcement investigation may now be withheld due to their use in an investigation would, in my opinion, be unreasonable and tend to subvert the purposes of FOIL." Therefore, access to any responsive correspondence that was not specifically produced or compiled for law enforcement purposes cannot be denied under this exception. In my request, I narrowed the timeframe for correspondence to between 8/1/18 and 9/15/18. The collapse of an escalator that harmed multiple students occurred on 9/13/18. Since I requested correspondence starting more than a month before the incident, it is impossible to deny access to correspondence before the incident because it is not possible for the SCI to have been investigating the incident before it occurred. Additionally, responses to the incident are not necessarily exempt unless the explicit purpose of the creation or compilation of responsive correspondence was for law enforcement purposes.

Secondly, the mere existence of an investigation into the related event does not mean that the release of responsive documents will cause interference. Your office has failed to provide any evidence that the release of responsive documents will interfere with the ongoing investigation conducted by the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI). Even if your office does determine that some documents would interfere with the investigation if released, it is hard to believe that every responsive document will interfere with the investigation and therefore cannot be released. The Committee on Open Government has issued an advisory opinion (FOIL-AO-16659) related to this issue, and it found that though the release of some documents may have interfered with the investigation or judicial proceedings, it was also likely "that disclosure of other records in whole or in part would have been required to comply with law." Thus, the denial is invalid on these grounds as well.

In Benedict v. Albany County, 22 Misc 3d 597 (Albany County Supreme Court 2008), the Court found that "blanket denials are inconsistent with FOIL and indicate a failure to comply with judicial authority." Consequently, the denial of access to all responsive records on the grounds that the release of some could interfere with an investigation or judicial proceeding, or because responsive correspondence has become relevant to law enforcement, is invalid.

Sincerely,

Hugo Smith

Files

pages

Close