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Attorney General's Opinions


Attorney General Matt Denn


          

17-IB01 02/03/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Randall Chase and Ms. Jessica Reyes re: FOIA Complaint Concerning The City of Dover

Written on: February 8th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioners alleged that the City of Dover’s denial of their request for a copy of a settlement agreement entered into by the City violated FOIA. HELD: The City has constructive possession of or administrative control over the settlement agreement and the confidentiality agreement does not bar disclosure. We conclude that the City violated FOIA by denying the Requests and request its insurer to provide Petitioners with the Release and Settlement Agreement within fifteen business days of this determination.


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17-IB02 02/08/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. John Wells re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Red Clay Consolidated School District

Written on: February 8th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner alleged on five occasions that Red Clay Consolidated School District violated FOIA by failing to respond to his requests records in a time and manner as prescribed by FOIA. HELD: We find that the District violated FOIA repeatedly, as alleged in each of the Petitions, by failing to respond to Petitioner’s requests in the manner and time prescribed by FOIA. The only exception to this finding is with respect to his request for 2016-2017 choice records, which were not available when requested. No specific remediation is recommended because the Petitioner did receive the records after the deadlines had passed. However, the District is encouraged to consult the statute and other materials available on FOIA compliance.


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16-IB27 12/22/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Frank Cannon re: FOIA Complaint Concerning City of Seaford

Written on: December 22nd, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

In May 2016, Petitioner alleged that the City had not given timely notice of their April 4, 2016 meeting. HELD: The City violated FOIA by providing five days’ public notice instead of the required seven.

In June 2016, the Petitioner alleged that the City’s Electric Committee failed to provide public notice of their May 16, 2016 meeting and the Economic Development Committee failed to post notice of their March 22, 2016 meeting. HELD: These committees are public bodies and these meetings were each attended by a quorum of members. Thus the City violated FOIA by not noticing these meetings. However, the City has agreed that future activities of these bodies will comply with FOIA.

In July 2016, Petitioner alleged that the City held meetings closed to the public between May 17, 2016 and June 14, 2016 in order to finalize and balance the fiscal year 2017 budget. HELD: There is insufficient evidence to support the allegation. No FOIA violation was found.

In November 2016, Petitioner alleged that the Electric Committee failed to publicly post or publish the minutes of its August 3, 2016 meeting and that sometime in the summer of 2016, the Council held meetings closed to the public. HELD: The City Council and the Electric Committee are required only to make minutes available to the public for review, which they were several days later. There is insufficient evidence to support the second allegation. Thus no FOIA violation was found in regard to either allegation.


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16-IB26 12/13/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Rep. Paul Baumbach, Rep. John Kowalko, Jr., Rep. Ed Osienski, Sen. Karen Peterson, Sen. David Sokola, and Sen. Bryan Townsend re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the University of Delaware Board of Trustees

Written on: December 13th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioners alleged that the University of Delaware Board of Trustees (the “Board”) violated the open meetings provisions of FOIA by not adequately describing in the agenda for a May 17, 2016 meeting a bylaws change which the Board expected to discuss. HELD: The Board violated FOIA by failing to include proposed revisions to Article 3 of the University’s bylaws – a major issue expected to be discussed – in its agenda for its May 17, 2016 meeting. Because the Board has indicated an intent to reconsider the issue and ratify the vote at its December 13, 2016 meeting, the Department of Justice requests no further remediation. The Department of Justice nonetheless requests that the Board engage in meaningful public discussion on the matter prior to its December 13, 2016 vote.


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16-IB25 12/13/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Ms. Laura Nash and Ms. Jackie Hildebrand Kook re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Christina School District Board of Education

Written on: December 13th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioners alleged that the Christina School District Board of Education (the “Board”) had violated the open meetings provisions of FOIA by discussing items in executive session that are required to be publicly discussed. HELD: The Board violated FOIA by convening an executive session to discuss interview questions and next steps in the search process for the Christina School District Superintendent Position. To remediate this violation, the Department of Justice requests that the Board discuss the matters anew at its December 13, 2016 board meeting.discussed in executive session at the December 13, 2016 board meeting.


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16-IB24 11/17/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Michael Heyman re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Newark Planning Commission

Written on: November 17th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner alleged that notice of a meeting of the Newark Planning Commission was insufficient based on its placement along a roadway. HELD: No FOIA violation was found. The Commission complied with the FOIA’s requirement of “conspicuous posting” at their primary place of business, which is also where the meeting was held. It also made multiple notices of the meeting available through online and print means.


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16-IB23 10/28/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Kevin Ohlandt re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Pathways to Prosperity Steering Committee

Written on: October 28th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner alleged that a meeting of the Pathways to Prosperity Committee met without providing public notice. HELD: The Committee acknowledged that it had violated FOIA by failing to provide public notice of its first meeting. As no action was taken at the meeting, minutes were made publicly available, and the Committee expressed that its oversight would not be repeated, this office found no additional remediation was warranted.


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16-IB22 10/24/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Peter Kostyshyn re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the State Elections Commissioner

Written on: October 24th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner requested campaign finance reports from the Office of the State Elections Commissioner (the “SEC”), which directed Petitioner to a website for the information. Petitioner alleged that this constituted a denial of records because he has no access to a computer. The SEC, after learning the Petitioner had no access to a computer, offered Petitioner printed records for a fee. HELD: No FOIA violation is found. A public body is permitted to charge fees in advance for printing or copying records, and the fees the SEC proposes for printed copies of the requested documents appear to be consistent with the statute.


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16-IB21 10/19/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Kevin Ohlandt re: FOIA Complaint Concerning Gateway Lab Charter School

Written on: October 19th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner requested a determination of whether Gateway Lab Charter School’s Board of Directors had violated FOIA by voting in executive session. HELD: Evidence demonstrated that there was an error in the minutes, which were subsequently revised, and that the vote took place during the public session. Thus, the Board did not violate FOIA by voting in executive session. However, the Board did violate FOIA by failing to maintain minutes that accurately reflected the votes taken and actions agreed upon at the April 4th meeting.


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16-IB20 9/30/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Russell Carollo re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Office of the State Bank Commissioner

Written on: September 30th, 2016 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Petitioner alleged that the Office of the State Bank Commissioner (OSBC) violated FOIA by denying his request because he is not a citizen of Delaware. HELD: FOIA permits but does not require public bodies to fulfill FOIA requests from citizens of other states.


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