Atnre Alleyne, a former employee of the Delaware Department of Education and the current head of DelawareCAN, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the DOE back in March. He was not satisfied with their response and filed a FOIA complaint with the Delaware Department of Justice. The Delaware DOJ issued their opinion on the complaint on May 4th and found the Delaware DOE did violate FOIA.
What I find interesting is there is no remedy for this. Usually opinions like this have some type of solution written. This one does not. It does not direct the Delaware DOE to complete Alleyne’s FOIA request. The basis of the DOE denying Alleyne’s request was the pending lawsuit against the State of Delaware of which the Delaware DOE is a named party. The AG’s office, however, found that could not be the basis for a denial of Alleyne’s FOIA request.
Based upon the record, it is my determination that the DOE’s wholesale denial of your request violated FOIA. However, I am unable to determine whether, or to what extent, the exemption applies. The DOE did not violate FOIA by failing to answer your specific questions, as FOIA does not require a public body to answer questions, or to create records that do not exist.
I would love to know what Alleyne is hoping to find out with this FOIA request. Alleyne has made no secret about his feelings on his former boss at the DOE, former Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky. His FOIA request to the DOE pertained to the Christina School District priority schools and the funding behind them. He asked specifically for several emails between Godowsky and the Christina School District and any of their board members as well as former DOE Accountability Chief Penny Schwinn and the still-current DOE employee Eric Niebrzdowski. He wanted any emails referencing the three Christina Priority Schools- Stubbs, Bayard, and Bancroft and any mention of the Christina School District.
I did reach out to Alleyne to see if the DOE completed the FOIA request based on the AG’s opinion. He said the Delaware DOE did issue him a cost estimate and feels the DOE will honor his request for the emails once he pays them. He did state they have not provided the Priority School funding information.
For now, please see the AG opinion below: