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Thursday, August 30, 2018

PAC Orders Release of Unredacted Copy of Settlement Agreement

In PAC Op. 18-010, the PAC found a public body in violation for FOIA for not disclosing the details about claims that were the subject of a settlement agreement.

A union organization filed a FOIA request seeking records pertaining to a settlement agreement between a school district and its former principal. The district provided a redacted copy of the settlement agreement but did not cite an exemption for the redactions in the initial response. In a supplemental response, the district cited 7(1)(c) claiming that the redacted information was protected because release would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

The union appealed to the PAC, which reviewed the unredacted copy of the agreement. The PAC noted that the redacted information described the nature of the principal's allegations against the district in broad, general terms but did not detail any circumstances or events giving rise to the allegations. The PAC rejected the district's argument that the issues surrounding the allegations were sensitive and highly personal in nature, and determined that the public had the right to see the terms that led to the district paying a settlement to the former employee in exchange for his resignation. The PAC concluded that the redacted information was not exempt under 7(1)(c) of FOIA and ordered the district to release an unredacted copy of the settlement agreement. 


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