The Complainant alleged that administrative-staff meetings held by the school district should be considered public meetings because school board members were present. The district argued that only two board members were now present at the meetings, not a quorum, and that those members were not appointed to a subcommittee or special ad hoc committee. Held: if the board members make any formal or informal, express or implied recommendations to the full Board based upon any action proposed at the administrative-staff meetings, they would be considered a subcommittee and subject to open meetings requirements. However, based upon current facts, there is no violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
Written on: June 7th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that the City of New Castle failed to respond to his request for documents. Complainant requested information on the status of public walkways taken for private use. Held: the description of the documents sought was not sufficient to allow the City to locate such records, the request lacked specificity and was not a permissible request and there was no violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
Written on: March 24th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged a violation of the Freedom of Information Act’s open meeting requirements when the City of New Castle posted a revised agenda the day of a public meeting but did not provide a reason in the agenda for the delay. The open meeting was held to discuss a proposed ordinance. The City argued that an administrative oversight is not a substantive violation of FOIA. Held: failure to state a reason for delay in posting an agenda is a violation of FOIA. The city must issue a new ordinance in compliance with FOIA.
Written on: March 20th, 1995 in 10002(l) (1) Exemptions - Personnel
The Complainant alleged that Seaford, Indian River, Laurel, Woodbridge and Milford School Districts improperly refused to provide the names and salaries of all district teachers. The districts provided the salaries, but not names, of the teachers. Held: there is no statutory exemption that prevents the disclosure of public school districts’ teachers’ names and salaries.
The Complainant alleged that the “breakfast meetings” described in AG Opinion 95-IB04 continued to be held. A discussion of suggestions for betterment of the school system is considered public business. Because a quorum of the Board was present, the breakfast meetings should be considered public meetings within the meaning of the statute. Counsel for the school board noted that the board will not hold breakfast meetings any more but, if they do, a quorum will not be present. Held: if a quorum of a subcommittee is present and makes recommendations to the full board, it is considered a public body under the Freedom of Information Act and must abide by open meeting requirements.
Written on: March 7th, 1995 in 10002(l) (4) Exemptions - Criminal Files and Criminal Records
The Requestor, the Director of the Division of Professional Regulations, sought clarification on which components of applications for licensure should be released under the Freedom of Information Act. Held: Criminal records, including those submitted by the applicants, cannot be released. The rest of a licensure applicant’s application should be provided.
Written on: February 13th, 1995 in 10002(l) (1) Exemptions - Personnel
The Requestor sought clarification on whether apprentice agreements, which contain personal information such as name and salary of apprentices, should be released under the Freedom of Information Act. Each agreement was stamped that it could not be disclosed without permission. Held: this stamp created an expectation of privacy that would not typically be applied to names and salaries. Therefore, the agreements should not be released pursuant to the exception for “any personnel, medical or pupil file, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, under this legislation or under any State or federal law as it relates to personal privacy.” 29 Del. C. 10002(l)(1). However, if this stamp is removed from the agreements, the records should be provided under FOIA.
Written on: February 6th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that Woodbridge School District impermissibly charged her fees for the compiling of requested documents, in addition to the copying fees. The District had a regulation which allowed for charges for copying fees but did not specify additional charges for time employees spent satisfying the request. Held: Because the statute did not specifically allow for administrative fees, and the District did not follow its own regulations, Complainant was impermissibly charged. This decision was superseded by the August, 2012 amendments to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act which allows for reasonable administrative fees.
Written on: January 25th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Requestor sought clarification on what information should be released pursuant to FOIA requests for sworn payroll records filed with the Delaware Department of Labor pursuant to prevailing wage law requirements. These records contain the name, address and Social Security number of each employee working on the public project, the employee’s work classification, total hours worked, rate of pay, amount earned, deductions, types of benefits provided and the cost of those benefits. Held: sworn payroll records must be released under FOIA but social security numbers of workers must be redacted in order to protect the personal privacy of the individuals. Note: this opinion was rescinded and superseded by Del. Op. Att’y Gen. 98-IB07 (1998).
Written on: January 24th, 1995 in 10002(h) Public Body
The Complainant alleged that the Court on the Judiciary improperly refused to allow him to review the record and non-sworn testimony of a case. Held: the deliberations of courts are not public meetings pursuant to 29 Del. C. 10004(h)(4) and the requested records from such deliberations are not public records that can be reviewed.