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Anonymous resident sues Madison school district for school plans, reading curriculum, other records

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//November 15, 2019//

Anonymous resident sues Madison school district for school plans, reading curriculum, other records

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//November 15, 2019//

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A Madison resident is suing the Madison Metropolitan School District under open-records laws to obtain information about the district’s Board of Education, school improvement plans, reading curriculum and other records.

Tom Kamenick of the Wisconsin Transparency Project filed the lawsuit Friday on the behalf of a resident wishing to remain anonymous. The person, using the pseudonym John Doe, is asking the school district to release records requested over the past four months.

The petition for writ of mandamus says Doe made 26 anonymous requests to the district through the online public-records database MuckRock between July and October. More than half of the requests were for “weekly update” documents sent from administrators to the Board of Education. Doe also requested school improvement plans for the 2019-20 school year, kindergarten through grade 12 reading curriculum plans, a teachers report, a grant application, teacher training documents and more.

The district responded to several of the weekly requests using MuckRock, saying it had received the requests but raised questions about the requester’s anonymity. The responses read, “While the Wisconsin Open Records law does not require disclosure of the requester’s identity, the MMSD contends that the requester’s identity is relevant in its determination of whether there is a safety concern that would prohibit disclosure of the requested documents.”

The petition argues the district’s safety concerns, saying “The requested records are routine government documents, not focused on any individual, and they contain no information that would put any person’s safety in danger if revealed.”

The petition asks the courts to make the district immediately produce the records and award the petitioner reasonable attorney fees, damages of $100 for each of the 26 counts, other costs and punitive damages.

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