College of DuPage (ECWd) –
The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has determined the College of DuPage violated Section 9.5(f) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by not providing the student school (@cod.edu) email addresses.
This determination came after my initial complaint (here) where I requested the college email addresses of the staff, faculty, employees, and students. The College stated they would not provide the student school email addresses – keep in mind the difference between a school and private email address. The College of DuPage was provided an opportunity to respond, and I was provided an opportunity to respond to COD’s response (here).
This is once again another example of a public body spending tax payer money on a law firm that gives lousy advice all while blaming the requester for costing them money. Had they just followed the law they would not have had any legal bills on this matter!
In this determination letter, the PAC’s opinion determined that:
1) Student School email addresses are “Public records” subject to FOIA.
2) “Student Directory Information” as specifically defined in Federal Law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and includes student school email addresses as records intended for public release.
3) The Colleges failure to include student emails in their “Student Directory Information” does not prohibit their release under FERPA or any other law.
4) FOIA only allows withholding records “specifically” prohibited from release under state or federal law – and this is not the case with student school email addresses since there is no law, state, federal, or otherwise that specifically prohibits their release. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite, federal law specifically grants authority for their release to the public.
5) COD violated FOIA when it denied my request for the public records.
6) The AG’s PAC directed COD to disclose the with-held email addresses.
Read the Determination Letter, dated March 20, 2015, below: