This week’s FOIA round-up: Back-to-school edition

This week’s FOIA round-up: Back-to-school edition

You’re no fool. You read the FOIA round-up.

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

In this week’s FOIA round-up, we take a look at the news on schools brought to you by public records and highlight some of MuckRock’s requests and projects.

Data from Seattle suggests that students’ access to recess can be broken down in racial terms. In North Carolina, lawyers for the University of North Carolina are back in court to prevent the release of names of known sexual misconduct perpetrators. In Illinois, public record requests are the only way to learn the reasons behind certain university employee terminations. And, at the University of Michigan, the defense of former president Lou Anna Simon and her handling of serial sex offender Larry Nasser has a price tag approaching $1 million.

See a great use of public records we missed? Send over your favorite FOIA stories via email, on Twitter, or on Facebook, and maybe we’ll include them in the next round-up. And if you’d like even more inspiration, read past round-ups.

UNC, required to release sexual misconduct records, goes to the state Supreme Court

In April 2018 the North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the University of North Carolina will need to provide records detailing the names and violations of individuals found guilty of rape or sexual assault by the university. UNC tried to argue that the records were exempt from disclosure under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which the Court of Appeals found unconvincing. Now the college has taken the case to the state’s Supreme Court.

The initial request for information about the crimes was submitted in November 2016 by a team of new outlets including WRAL, The Charlotte Observer, and The Daily Tar Heel, the university’s daily student newspaper.

You can read more about the ongoing court battles on The Daily Tar Heel.

Records reveal true reasons behind firings at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A joint investigation by NPR Illinois and ProPublica has revealed that terminations at the largest college in the state were sometimes conducted to prevent employees’ shortcomings from ever reaching the public. Terminations were often accompanied by confidentiality clauses, which limited the university from proactively discussing the conditions of the departures. Public records requests, like those submitted by NPR Illinois, are one of the only ways to get access to these details. While the college has said it will no longer be including such provisions in its agreements, these clauses are commonly used at other universities.

You can read the whole story on ProPublica or NPR Illinois.

Is recess a racial issue? In Seattle, the data suggests that it is.

Data and reporting in Seattle suggest that students at whiter, more affluent schools get 15 minutes or more recess than students at schools where the population is poorer or of color. Recess data was obtained via a public records request to Seattle Public Schools. More than half of black students attend a low-recess school.

You can read the report on KUOW.

School records requests on MuckRock right now.

MuckRock has a whole collection of records requests our users have sent to universities and colleges.

Here’s a selection, but be sure to browse the site by agency for more!

Jobs from the FOIA world.

  • MuckRock: We’re hiring! Come use transparency, journalism and technology to strengthen our democracy.

Read a great FOIA-based news story we should highlight? Let us know and maybe we can include it in our next roundup! Send it over via email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Image via Jörg Schubert and licensed under CC BY 2.0