AGENCY FAILED TO SHOW EXEMPTION APPLIED
Back in May of 2019, after the Suffern Education Association asked the Board of Education of the Suffern Central School District (BOE) for documents pursuant to the “Freedom of Information Law,” the BOE responded with some materials, and indicated that the balance would arrive by June of 2019.
When those additional documents were not received, an administrative appeal was filed and, in response, the BOE supplied heavily redacted materials.
Thereafter, a special proceeding [pursuant to CPLR Article 78] was commenced, and the Rockland County Supreme Court directed that unadulterated copies of the documents be provided and awarded the Association its fees and costs.
On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department, noted that it was the BOE’s burden to show that an exemption to production applied, and such a showing needed to be made in a particularized way. The agency was required, among other things, to offer “a particularized and specific justification for denying access.'”
In this instance, since the BOE failed to demonstrate why the “factual data” at issue was exempt from disclosure, the AD2 thought the underlying order (which also awarded fees and costs) was providently granted.
Think the BOE learned a lesson here?
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