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District 303 to start posting FOIA requests online

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 9:01 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles School District 303 will now start posting Freedom of Information Act requests on its website.

The board approved the measure at its Dec. 9 meeting, becoming one of a few schools in the state to post FOIA requests online, according to board members. Although the move was approved following a committee recommendation, some board members expressed concerns.

“I don’t think we need to be like the second district in Illinois doing this,” board member Kathleen Hewell said at the meeting. “There’s no requirement by law to have it on your website, and very few districts in the state do this. Do we want to be the guinea pig on this?”

District spokesman Jim Blaney, who is one of two FOIA officers for the district, said the district doesn’t receive too many requests.

“I wouldn’t categorize it as a lot,” he said on Thursday. “Most of them come from vendors who maybe bid on something, and they want to see just want the bid that was awarded [was], or organizations looking for very specific information. That’s the bulk of them.”

Some board members at the Dec. 9 meeting were concerned that someone might misconstrue some information in a FOIA because there might not be much context. A few board members said some people request very specific information, and without knowing what a particular request was for, the FOIA requests might be confusing.

Board member Ed McNally said posting FOIA requests online would help make the district more transparent.

“We want to be the leading edge on a lot of things, and I think having the leading edge on transparency is a good start,” he said on Dec. 9.

Blaney said the district would start posting FOIA requests online beginning with the next one the district receives. He said he and the district’s other FOIA officer will continue to follow the laws regarding FOIA requests, which are very specific.

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