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Open Records — staff management planning exemption

Wisconsin Court of Appeals


Open Records — staff management planning exemption

In this open records law dispute, The Lakeland Times and its publisher, Gregg Walker (Lakeland Times), seek a record allegedly used by Lakeland Union High School (LUHS) and members of the board of education while hiring a new basketball coach, Rich Fortier. Lakeland Times suspects the record contains fabricated or selectively edited comments from Fortier’s former employers and seeks discovery — confidential or otherwise — so it may prove the record is not truthful and its author engaged in misconduct. Following an in camera review of the document, the circuit court granted summary judgment for LUHS.

We conclude summary judgment was appropriate because the complaint’s allegations, taken as true, establish all elements of LUHS’s defense. Specifically, LUHS relies on Wis. Stat. § 19.36(10)(d), which prohibits an authority from releasing information “relating to one or more specific employees that is used … for staff management planning.”

We further conclude the circuit court erroneously determined genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the record was an honest representation of Fortier’s former employers’ comments. Whether a record accurately captures information from former employers is irrelevant under Wis. Stat. § 19.36(10)(d). Accordingly, Lakeland Times was not entitled to discovery on that matter. We affirm. Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

2014AP95 The Lakeland Times et al. v. Lakeland Union High School

Dist III, Vilas County, Stenz, J., Cane, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Dreps, Robert J., Madison; For Respondent: Cieslewicz, Michael J., Milwaukee; Woehl, Dustin, Milwaukee

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