Evanston (IL) High School board slams door on public access to communications

A confidentiality rule approved by the board of Evanston Township High School District 202 (ETHS) on Dec. 11 unlawfully reverses the presumption of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to an attorney on the board who voted against it.

“The presumption under FOIA is that all government communication is public with some narrow areas of exemption,” Jonathan Baum told North Cook News. “Under this resolution, every communication among school officials is confidential unless permission to share it is granted by the superintendent or the board president. They even have to approve the party the information is being shared with.”

The other attorney on the board, Gretchen Livingston, also voted against the resolution, which was approved on a 5-2 vote.

A spokesman for the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union said that they were looking into possible constitutional violations regarding the resolution, but they had no set timetable or strategy for pursuing legal action.

The controversy arose out of Baum’s sharing an email from Superintendent Eric Witherspoon explaining why he confiscated the Sept. 22 issue of the student newspaper, The Evanstonian, which contained an article covering the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and a poll of its use among students. Read more…