FOIA Brochure

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					Q: What proactive steps can an employee take
   regarding their personnel file?                                                                     Freedom of
A: An employee should review his/her person-
   nel file periodically (the Personnel Records
   Act requires access at least twice a year). If
                                                                                                     Information Act
   the employee disagrees with any information
   contained in the file, he/she should request
   that it be removed. If the employer does not
                                                                                                     (FOIA) Changes:
   agree to remove it, the employee should write
   a response to be attached to the disputed por-
   tion of the file. Since your response would also
                                                                                                        Impact on
   become a part of the record accessible to the
   public, it is advised that you have it reviewed
                                                      Bloomington
                                                      Carterville
                                                                                    309-663-6400
                                                                                    618-733-4472    Employee Records
   by an association representative prior to its      Champaign                     217-384-2906
   submission. [Review any applicable collective
                                                      Chicago                       312-407-0227
   bargaining agreement provision regarding re-
   sponding to items in personnel files — some        Decatur                       217-875-9353
   have a time limit for when responses can be        Edwardsville                  618-656-0010
   added.] An employee also can engage in po-         Effingham                     217-342-2187
   litical action — assisting the IEA in achieving
   legislation that protects an employee’s per-       Elgin                         847-428-7640
   sonnel file material from disclosure.              Libertyville                  847-932-4140
Q: What proactive steps can an association take       Lombard                       630-495-3250
   regarding protecting members’ personnel            Matteson                      708-228-5556
   files?                                             Moline                        309-797-4126
A: Although associations and public employers         Morris                        815-942-6220
   cannot bargain to prevent disclosure of items      Mt. Vernon                    618-244-0015
   that are not exempt under the FOIA, they can
                                                      Naperville                    630-369-1555
   bargain such items as: pre-disclosure notice
   and opportunity to ensure that private infor-      Palatine                      847-359-0300
   mation is redacted; content of final discipline    Peoria                        309-691-2288
   documents, final grievance outcomes, and           Rockford                      815-398-0995
   settlement documents (so that they divulge
                                                      Rushville                     217-322-2101
   as little information as possible); the length
   of time disciplinary documents will remain in      Skokie                        847-329-7756
   the file; how leave is requested, and how leave    Springfield                   217-787-7060
   use is recorded. An association also can           Sterling                      815-626-3884




                                                                                                    Q&A
   engage in political action — assisting the
   IEA in achieving legislation that protects an
   employee’s personnel file material from
   disclosure.
       For more information please contact
      your UniServ director. IEA region office
         phone numbers are listed on the
           back panel of this brochure.                       100 East Edwards Street
                                                             Springfield, IL 62704-1999             Illinois Education Association-NEA
                                                           Brochure printed by the IEA Print Shop
                                                                          01/2010
Q: What is the new timeline for responding to a             cial information (e.g. bank account numbers),          that test booklets with student markings or
   FOIA request?                                            passwords or other access codes, medical               other identifying information are “student
                                                            records, home or personal telephone numbers,           records” and therefore, subject to disclosure
A: Five business days after receipt of the request
                                                            and personal e-mail addresses (and home ad-            to the parent or student. Garlick v. Oak Park
   (unless an extension is granted by the public
                                                            dresses in some situations). Private informa-          and River Forest High School District 200, 329 Ill.
   body for specified reasons).
                                                            tion does not include a person’s name.                 Dec. 92 (1st Dist. 2009).
Q: Do you have to use a specific form when mak-
                                                        Q: Are all documents in a personnel file subject
   ing a FOIA request?                                                                                          Q: Are grievance or discipline documents sub-
                                                           to disclosure under the FOIA?
A: No, the public body cannot require that a spe-                                                                  ject to disclosure under the FOIA?
                                                        A: No. Letters of reference, peer evaluations,
   cific form be used, or require that you state the                                                            A: Only the final grievance resolution and final
                                                           private information as defined by the Act and
   reason for the request (except that the public                                                                  disciplinary disposition, if discipline is im-
                                                           any unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
   body can request information to determine if                                                                    posed. Other documents related to the
                                                           are exempt. For example: copies of social se-
   the request is being made for a commercial                                                                      investigation or processing of grievances and
                                                           curity cards, ADA accommodation requests
   purpose).                                                                                                       discipline are exempt.
                                                           and authorizations for direct deposit should
Q: What can a public body charge for copies?               be exempt from disclosure. Note: Evaluations
                                                                                                                Q: Is correspondence sent, received or opened
                                                           by administrators and other documents con-
A: The first 50 pages of copies, black and white, le-                                                              on a public employer’s e-mail/internet system
                                                           cerning the public duties of public employees
   gal or letter size, are free. After that, the cost                                                              subject to disclosure?
                                                           (like job descriptions, teaching certificates
   is supposed to be the actual cost of reproduc-
                                                           and course transcripts) are subject to disclo-       A: Yes, unless they contain “private information”
   tion, not to exceed 15 cents per page.
                                                           sure (although “private information” may be             or the disclosure would constitute an “unwar-
Q. Does the FOIA prohibit disclosure of exempt             redacted).                                              ranted invasion of personal privacy.” Therefore,
   documents?                                                                                                      members and local association leaders should
                                                        Q: Does the new law require a school district to
A. The FOIA does not prohibit disclosure of ex-            post a teacher’s evaluations (or salary) on the         not use the employer e-mail/internet system
   empt documents. The FOIA exemptions merely              district website?                                       for union business, unless they desire to have
   give a public body a legitimate excuse for not                                                                  the communication made public. Whether an
                                                        A: No. The FOIA does not require that anything             employer can or cannot impose discipline
   disclosing a document. In other words, just             be posted on the website. However, different
   because something is exempt from disclosure                                                                     against an employee for use of the employer’s
                                                           laws require that collective bargaining agree-          e-mail/internet system for union business is a
   under the FOIA doesn’t mean the public body             ments and salary information for administra-
   could not voluntarily disclose it. See Roehborn                                                                 separate issue to be discussed with your
                                                           tors (not rank and file employees) be posted            UniServ Director.
   v. Lambert, 213 Ill. Dec. 923 (1st Dist. 1995).         on the website (if one exists). Although evalu-
   Other laws may prohibit disclosure (like the            ations are probably subject to disclosure under      Q. Can an individual (or local association)
   various laws protecting confidential medical            the FOIA, that does not mean that evaluations           request a list of who has been making FOIA
   information). Local associations may want to            are required to be on the website. If your dis-         requests?
   consider bargaining prohibitions. (e.g. “The            trict is considering posting evaluations or other
   District shall not disclose any documents con-          items from individuals’ personnel files on the       A. The new law does not specifically address this.
   sidered “exempt” under the FOIA.”)                      website, it is IEA’s position that such a decision      However, there is a 2004 case where the 1st
Q: Are all settlement agreements now subject to            is a mandatory subject of bargaining and, ab-           District Appellate Court found that a request
   disclosure under the FOIA?                              sent a waiver of bargaining, would require bar-         for names and addresses of previous re-
                                                           gaining prior to implementation.                        questers of information was an unwarranted
A: Yes, however, “private information” as defined                                                                  invasion of personal privacy. See Chicago
   by the FOIA could be redacted.                       Q: Are test questions, scoring keys or other ex-           Alliance for Neighborhood Safety v. City of
                                                           amination data subject to disclosure under              Chicago, 283 Ill. Dec. 506 (1st Dist. 2004).
Q: What is “private information” as defined by             the FOIA?
   the FOIA?                                                                                                    Q: Are documents existing prior to the effective
                                                        A: No. There is a specific exemption for certain
                                                                                                                   date of the new FOIA (1/1/10) subject to the
A: “Private information” is defined as: unique             educational matters, including test questions,          new disclosure rules?
   identifiers, including a person’s social security       scoring keys or other examination data.
   number, biometric identifiers, personal finan-          However, an Illinois Appellate Court has held        A: Yes

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