Boots & Sabers

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1139, 09 Jun 20

Madison School District Relents to Open Records Request After Months of Obstruction

Speaking of opaque government… the Open Records Laws are very clear. You don’t have to disclose your identity to make a request.

An open records lawsuit filed anonymously against the Madison Metropolitan School District last fall was settled in May after the district released the records sought.

A “John Doe” filed the lawsuit against the district last November represented by attorney Tom Kamenick, the president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project.


The records sought mostly related to “weekly updates” from the superintendent to School Board members, with the anonymous requester seeking any and all records presented in such meetings. Doe had also filed requests for curriculum plans, school improvement plans and the annual seclusion and restraint report, among other topics.

Doe had used the website MuckRock and not identified themself, which MMSD cited as a reason not to release the records.

“Despite your disclaimer that ‘this request is not filed by a MuckRock staff member, but is being sent through MuckRock by the above in order to better track, share, and manage public records requests,’ your request has not identified the actual requester,” MMSD replied to some requests, according to the lawsuit. “While the Wisconsin Open Records law does not require disclosure of the requester’s identity, the MMSD contends that the requester’s identity is relevant in its determination of whether there is a safety concern that would prohibit disclosure of the requested documents.”

The purpose of protecting anonymity is that the request itself is an open record and we want to protect people from retribution for asking questions. For example, let’s say you have a kid in the school district and you ask for some requests that make the district administration uncomfortable. We want to provide a way for people to make those requests without opening themselves up to retaliation for merely asking for information.

1139, 09 June 2020


  1. Merlin

    Citing public safety concerns is going to become the stock excuse for why the Sith-rats do/don’t want to do anything for the rest of Evers’ tenure.

  2. kjanz1899

    I honestly knew nothing of Muck Rock before reading this. In case you were wondering this is what Muck Rock is about. “ MuckRock is a non-profit, collaborative news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists, and regular citizens to request, analyze, and share government documents, making politics more transparent and democracies more informed.”

  3. jjf

    My congratulations to Kamenick on another case won…

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