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Right-to-know ruling in favor of the Notebook is now a precedent

By Paul Socolar on Aug 15, 2012 07:31 PM

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court's April ruling in favor of the Notebook in a right-to-know case involving School Reform Commission resolutions is now a legal precedent.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini ruled last week in support of a motion filed by the Notebook to “report” the decision, meaning that it will now be treated as a precedent in similar cases in Pennsylvania.

In an April 26 decision, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer upheld a lower court ruling that once the District introduces a resolution before a public meeting of the SRC, it becomes a public record and is accessible under the Right to Know Law.

The case stemmed from September 2009, when the District withdrew -- rather than voting on -- a set of SRC resolutions after introducing and discussing them in a public meeting. When District staff subsequently declined requests to disclose the resolutions in full, the Notebook appealed and ultimately took the matter to court.

Once again successfully representing the Notebook in filing the motion was David Lapp, an attorney at the Education Law Center, whose services were provided pro bono.

"Winning the initial case helped the Notebook and Philadelphians," Lapp said. "Having it reported helps all Pennsylvania citizens."

Lapp noted that the court ruling speaks to a frequent government response to right-to-know requests: that a document is exempt from disclosure because it is a "draft" or it reflects "internal predecisional deliberations."

"By limiting how broadly agencies can apply those exemptions," Lapp said, "this reported opinion sets a binding precedent that favors public access and ensures greater transparency at all levels of government."

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Comments (10)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 15, 2012 9:23 pm

congrats on your civic achievement

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on August 15, 2012 9:30 pm

Yay, Notebook! Keep fighting the good fight!

Submitted by Education Graduate Student (not verified) on August 16, 2012 1:52 am

Kudos to The Notebook for pushing for transparency. The public has a right to know what school boards and school districts are doing with our money and for our children. Transparency is key to making public education work!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 16, 2012 6:09 am

Congratulations Notebook and Ed. Law Center! Now, get the same requirements for charter schools / operators!

Submitted by anon (not verified) on August 16, 2012 10:11 am

yes, kudos for forcing more disclosure, but isn't this the same guy (d. lapp) bemoaning the fact that suspending a kid for four days for bringing a pellet gun to school is too harsh. so harsh in fact, that an unnamed charter school is refusing him admission as a result.
imagine that. talk about a double standard!
how about we still suspend him and reconsider the admission policy of charters instead?

"THE YOUNG fifth-grader wanted to show his friend the pellet gun he brought into school earlier this year. The principal, who knew the student had no history of violent outbreaks or suspensions, had no choice but to follow the district's Code of Student Conduct and call the police. Four days' suspension. Now it appears a charter school wants to keep him out because of his record, said David Lapp, staff attorney with the Education Law Center. ...The fifth-grader's case and others like it need "a response, but not to the level of disrupting their educational process," Lapp said."

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 16, 2012 11:36 am

It's all enough to make a cat laugh.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on August 16, 2012 10:47 am

Well done!

Submitted by Anne Gemmell (not verified) on August 16, 2012 8:42 pm

Great job, David Lapp! Viva la FOIAs!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 17, 2012 7:33 am

Awesome. Keep up the great work.

Submitted by ion (not verified) on July 22, 2014 9:57 am

Great! You show them! They had no case to begin with. They just want to keep hiding. You're doing a great job! 

<a href="
">echipamente profesionale</a>


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