Mequon-Thiensville School District
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High School Students

Public Records Litigation

Update

December 21, 2021 - The Board of Education convened in Closed Session on December 6 for the purpose of conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved (Wis. Stats. 19.85(1)(g)).

After giving careful consideration to the feedback provided in response to the survey, and in consultation with our legal counsel, the District will be appealing the trial court’s decision to release the personal, private email addresses of individuals included in an email list used by the school district in June 2020. It is our belief that if left unchallenged, the trial court’s decision would significantly impact the District’s ability to protect the privacy interests of parents and interested parties who provide us with personal information for the sole purpose of supporting the academic interests of their students. In addition, this is a case of statewide importance as there is no case law or authority providing guidance to school districts when deciding whether to release private, personal information to a public records requestor. The result of this case could influence the application of the public records law in our state moving forward.

In considering the issue, Board Members focused on two main goals: compliance and support with the law providing access to public records, and honoring our promise to families to protect this information from public access for reasons not related to the educational mission of the District.

We want to ensure the public that this decision also represents our responsibility to taxpayers, who support the mission of the District financially. To that end, we are moving forward with the support of our Insurer. Apart from our original deductible, which has been met, the District will not spend or incur expenses in pursuing this appeal.

We will continue to update the public with future developments regarding this issue.

Previous Updates

Survey Results

An email message and survey were sent to all individuals on the requested "Distribution List" on Friday, November 19. The purpose of the survey is to gain a better understanding of the stance of those directly impacted by the ruling and ensure their perspectives and interests are heard. The results of that survey, below, were shared with the MTSD Board of Education and the District's legal counsel.

Survey QuestionTotal ResponsesYesNoI have no opinion
Question 1: If you had the choice, would you prefer the personal email address you shared with the school district be kept private from a third party requesting that information?1,054940 | 89%75 | 7%39 | 4%
Question 2: Assuming no additional taxpayer expense, should the District appeal the judge’s recent decision ordering the District to release your personal email address to a third party who had requested that information?1,052868 | 83%135 | 13%

49 | 5%