Following several ignored Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for its teacher and superintendent contracts, the Empire Center for Public Policy will file a lawsuit today against Malverne Union Free School District in Nassau County on Long Island. The Empire Center is being represented in this case by the Government Justice Center, an Albany-based nonprofit legal center.
The Empire Center, mainly through its SeeThroughNY.net database, has worked for years to give New Yorkers a clearer view of how their tax dollars are spent, including by providing access to collective bargaining agreements between local governments and their unionized employees.
Over the course of more than four months, Malverne School District continually ignored requests and appeals by the Empire Center for these public records. This repeats a pattern of failure to comply with FOIL requests established since the beginning of 2016 and earlier. During the past two years, Malverne School District has failed to respond to four separate FOIL requests by the Empire Center.
“The Freedom of Information Law exists to promote government transparency—something we at the Empire Center have long valued and strive every day to improve in New York. Agencies like the Malverne School District must be held accountable when they continually flout the law by ignoring legitimate requests for public information,” said Empire Center executive director Tim Hoefer.
This lawsuit comes just days after Governor Cuomo signed a critical FOIL reform bill into law, which will require agencies to pay the attorneys’ fees of plaintiffs who substantially prevail in FOIL proceedings.
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit think tank dedicated to promoting policies to make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.