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  Category: 10001 Declaration of Policy

Attorney General Matt Denn


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10001-declarations

00-IB03: FOIA Complaints Against Brandywine School District

Written on: February 2nd, 2000 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Brandywine School District had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by (i) charging him for access to public records; and (ii) failing to provide him with communications from the Delaware Department of Justice office to the district pertaining to an audit investigation of the district being performed by the Delaware Department of Justice. The district responded by agreeing not to charge the Complainant for the response, and by claiming that any communications responsive to his request were not in its custody. Held: The district may have violated FOIA by charging for access to public records when it did not have a formal policy in place requiring it to do so. Any such violation was remedied by the district’s agreement not to charge the access fee. As for the communications requested, the district was not the custodian of the records that were being sought, and it was therefore under no obligation under FOIA to produce the documents in question.


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00-IB02: FOIA Complaint Against Town of Bellefonte

Written on: January 10th, 2000 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Town of Bellefonte had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by not providing him with access to “all the town records past and current” at a time that was convenient to the Complainant. The town responded that it had arranged for all of the records in its possession to be available for inspection (with a photocopier available on location) at an open meeting, and that it had separately proposed thirty different hours in January 1998 when the Complainant could come in and review the available records. Held: The town’s response was reasonable and not a violation of FOIA. The town had made the records in its possession available on a number of occasions and at varying times. The town should not be “liable for [Complainant’s] failure or refusal to avail [himself] of any of those times.”


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99-IB17: FOIA Complaint Against Town of Townsend

Written on: December 22nd, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Town of Townsend violated the Freedom of Information Act in reviewing and approving a measure to mandate trash collection. Held: Upon review of the notice and agenda, the town complied with the notice requirements of FOIA in discussing and, ultimately, approving a set of mandatory trash collection procedures. No FOIA violation had occurred.


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99-IB16: FOIA Complaint Against Del. Dept. of Transportation and City of Wilmington

Written on: December 17th, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Delaware Department of Transportation and the City of Wilmington had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Held: FOIA does not permit the Attorney General to adjudicate any FOIA dispute between a citizen and a department that the Attorney General is obliged to represent, such as the Delaware Department of Transportation. In any event, the Complainant had not identified any meetings that were held in violation of FOIA or public records that were not provided to him upon request. Instead, the complaint focused on allegations of other statutory violations by the City of Wilmington, which were beyond the scope of the Attorney General’s FOIA jurisdiction. No relief was therefore warranted.


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99-IB12 RE: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Brandywine School District

Written on: September 21st, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Brandywine School District had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by failing to provide him with the names of the District Advisory Committee and such committee’s report and recommendations. The district responded that no such committee had been created, and it could not provide documents that did not exist. Held: Neither federal nor Delaware law requires a state agency to create a document that does not exist in order to satisfy a FOIA request. There was therefore no FOIA violation.


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99-IB11: FOIA Complaint Against City of Newark

Written on: June 25th, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the City of Newark had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) at its March 22, 1999 City Council meeting by changing its agenda at the start of that meeting to include a $675,000 increase to the 1999 city budget so that the city could consummate a purchase of real property it had contracted to buy in a March 10, 1999 agreement. Held: Because the agreement had been entered into 12 days before the meeting in question, the City’s defense that it could amend its agenda to reflect issues that “arise at the time of the public body’s meeting” under FOIA was insufficient. The City was directed to place the budget amendment on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled meeting or at a special meeting held with adequate notice and opportunity for the public to be heard.


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99-IB08: FOIA Complaint Against Christina School District

Written on: June 9th, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Christina School District had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by charging her for the costs of retrieving and copying public records that had been requested before the district enacted a set of administrative procedures providing for the charging of costs associated with FOIA responses. Held: Costs could only be assessed for requests that came in after the district implemented its policy for cost recoupment. The district violated FOIA by delaying its response to the Complainant’s request until after it had promulgated regulations requiring a requesting party to pay for the administrative costs associated with a search, and then charging the Complainant for such costs.


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99-IB05: FOIA Complaint Against Town of Bethany Beach

Written on: May 12th, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Town of Bethany Beach had violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by failing to give notice that it would discuss the hiring of a new police officer at its March 19, 1999 meeting. Held: The notice and agenda for the meeting indicated that the Town Council would go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. FOIA does not require an agency to identify the specific personnel it intends to discuss in executive session, including job applicants. There was therefore no FOIA violation.


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99-IB02: FOIA Complaint Against City of New Castle

Written on: April 16th, 1999 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the City of New Castle had denied her request for a copy of a consultant’s report on the management and operational efficiency of the New Castle City Police Department. The City acknowledged that it denied the request for a copy of the full report, but further responded that it had sent the Complainant a copy of the report’s general findings and withheld the rest on the grounds that the police officer interviews contained therein constituted “personnel files” which were not required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and were otherwise protected from disclosure by a common law right of privacy. Held: the report did not constitute a “personnel record,” but the contents could be withheld under a common law right of privacy. Because the private information could not be meaningfully redacted from the report, the City did not violate the public records requirements of FOIA in refusing the Complainant’s request.


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98-IB14: FOIA Complaint-City of Newark

Written on: December 17th, 1998 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Complainant alleged that the City of Newark violated FOIA when it denied her the right to copy the minutes of an executive session meeting, but allowed another citizen to copy the minutes. Held: The City violated FOIA but not providing Complainant with a complete copy of the minutes of the executive session in light of the Council’s decision to make the same minutes available to another citizen.


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