Our Docket

ACLU of Iowa v. Records Custodian, Atlantic Community School District
Iowa District Court, Cass County, Iowa, Docket No. EQCV 024042
Filed, February 24, 2010:

After 4 high school girls were strip searched in apparent violation of Iowa Code Chapter 808A (student searches) the ACLU of Iowa filed an Open Records request with the Atlantic Community School District seeking the names of two school staff members who were allegedly disciplined and the punishment they received.  The school district released the names, but has resisted disclosing what if any punishment or discipline was imposed on the argument that such information is barred from disclosure under Iowa Code Section 22.7(11) which states "Personal information in confidential personnel records of public bodies including but not limited to cities, boards of supervisors and school districts."  

The issue is whether the discipline received is "personal information" or part of a "confidential personnel record."  We view this exemption narrowly and argue that under the appropriate balancing tests, it does not apply to the information requested given the public interest at stake.  Our brief is posted in the "Briefs" section of this site.

UPDATE:  In February of 2011 the district court for Cass County, Iowa (Judge Richard H. Davidson) denied our Open Records request after refusing to employ a balancing test established by the Iowa Supreme Court for all, but the clearest of cases under the exception from disclosure of "personal" and "confidential" personnel records {Iowa code § 22.7(11)}.  We took an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court and our appellate brief was filed on March 15, 2011.  

Recently, in an unrelated development, the Iowa Senate passed SF 289 which could force the disclosure of disciplinary records whenever a public employee is terminated.  It is unclear whether that legislation would pass in the house.

UPDATE:  Senate File 289 has passed and has been signed into law.  It does make certain things like the disciplinary firing of an employee a public record, but it does not reach our issue.  It remains to be seen how (or whether) the new language of §22.7(11) will affect our litigation.