The public has a right to government transparency, and state public record laws ensure citizens can find out what their government is up to. The Goldwater Institute is regularly engaged in public records cases with assistance from AFN attorneys.
For example, in Rhode Island and Virginia, we defended parents who were trying to learn more about what was going on in their local school districts. In both cases, public education bureaucrats sued the parents for daring to ask questions.
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest public sector teachers union, sued Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas after she filed public records requests seeking information about her daughter’s kindergarten curriculum—requests that the South Kingston School District said would cost $74,000 to fulfill.
Meanwhile, Debra Tisler and Callie Oettinger, moms in Fairfax County, Virginia, wanted to find out how their school district was spending taxpayer dollars. After legally obtaining materials that showed how much the district was paying in legal bills and removing confidential details, they posted some of the documents on a website to inform other Fairfax County families. The school district sued them, demanding that they take the documents down. Goldwater stood up for Debra and Callie’s First Amendment rights, and the Fairfax County Circuit Court ultimately ruled that the school district had tried to shut down these moms’ free speech.
Our work does not end there. The Goldwater Institute’s state public records project includes a 50-state public records guide, in addition to a requests template to assist AFN attorneys and allies working to increase government transparency.