The Northwest Herald (Illinois) pursues a story on the performance evaluations of former McHenry County College president Walt Packard, which the college refuses to disclose.
McHenry County College this week again refused a Northwest Herald Freedom of Information Act request to release the contents of its former president’s evaluations. The college repeatedly has cited the personal privacy exemption in FOIA in denying us the information.
Personal privacy exemptions vary from state to state in the small matters of detail that are relevant. Here is detail from the Illinois Attorney General FOIA FAQ:
Personal information that, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, unless the disclosure is consented to in writing by the person who is the subject of the information. Under FOIA, the “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” means the “disclosure of information that is highly personal or objectionable to a reasonable person and in which the subject’s right to privacy outweighs any legitimate public interest in obtaining the information.” Disclosing information that relates to the public duties of public employees is not considered an invasion of personal privacy.
The Herald gets kudos from a reader for its continuing efforts:
I’d like to encourage the Northwest Herald to continue to use FOIA, and continue to remind us all of this very valuable tool. I suggest that citizens learn to use it as well. By its frequent use, it will continue to help us understand our government better.