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UFT sues Tweed over redacted emails

The DOE turned over emails in response to a FOIL request, but not before blacking out most of the content.

The UFT sued the Department of Education on Nov 15, saying it failed to prove that some or all of the redactions it made to emails between top DOE officials and City Hall political figures and charter school proponents, produced in response to the union’s Freedom of Information Law request, were proper.

The union asked the New York State Supreme Court to intervene, after the DOE turned over only heavily blacked-out copies of emails between former Chancellor Joel Klein, his deputies and charter school advocates, two years after the UFT had requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.

“They are running the Department of Education, not the CIA. Redacting information is a function of privacy, not of hiding misdeeds,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Like dozens of other organizations, from parent groups to the city’s media, the UFT has struggled to get the DOE to live up to its obligations to make public information public.”

The UFT first requested the documents in May 2010. Nearly two years later the DOE released some of the data, but in many instances all that remained after the DOE censors were done was the subject line and the first three words of the email.

The DOE argued that all the redacted information was legally exempt. But the lawsuit charges that the DOE’s blanket exemption claims are illegal and should be reviewed by the courts.

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