FOI Council fights Iowa City school secrecy

The work that Stephen Murley, the superintendent of the Iowa City public schools, did for pay for a consulting company in the Chicago area came under scrutiny this fall when the company was the subject of an investigation by the Better Government Association of Chicago.

Murley’s employment contract with the Iowa City school district required him to inform the school board about details of his outside employment. But when reporters asked to see the reports Murley had provided to the school board, the superintendent and the board declined to make public those documents, saying they were confidential.

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council got involved, writing to the board members that such reports were, in fact, public records under Iowa’s “sunshine” laws because there was no exemption in the law that allowed them to treat the reports as confidential. The council’s letter said school officials, in light of the Chicago investigation, could erode public confidence in the Iowa City schools with their secrecy.

The board and Murley then changed their positions and made the information available to reporters.

You can read the Iowa FOI Council’s letter here. Letter.IaCitySklBd.2015