Commonwealth Court continues temporary stay of its February 17 Order on school employee home addresses
The saga continues! Here is a very brief summary:
1. On February 17, 2015, the Commonwealth Court entered an Order vacating its prior injunction initially issued in 2009 (and later modified in 2014), prohibiting the release of school employee addresses in response to Right-to-Know Law requests.
2. In place of its prior injunction, the Commonwealth Court’s February 17 Order placed a logistical burden on school districts, by requiring the following steps in response to a RTKL request for employee home addresses.
The district must notify employees in writing of the RTKL request for home addresses, so that employees can assert an objection to the release of their home addresses based upon the RTKL’s personal security exception.
The district must consider any employee objections in responding to the RTKL request for home addresses.
The Order also granted objecting employees the right to appeal to the Office of Open Records a decision by the district to grant the request for home addresses, and to participate in any appeal to the Office of Open Records by a requesting party if the district denies the request for home addresses – this aspect of the Order placed a burden on school districts to notify objecting employees of the district’s decision, to withhold any release of home addresses until objecting employees decided whether to file an appeal, and to continue withholding the release of home addresses during the pendency of any appeal by an employee.
3. PSEA, which is a party to the lawsuit, filed an appeal of the Commonwealth Court’s February 17 Order with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
4. Immediately after filing its appeal with the Supreme Court, PSEA asked the Commonwealth Court to do either of the following:
Agree to postpone implementation of its February 17 Order, and restore the Commonwealth Court’s prior injunction, until the Supreme Court decides the appeal;
Or, at the very least, temporarily postpone implementation of its February 17 Order, and restore the Commonwealth Court’s prior injunction, until the Supreme Court decides whether the Supreme Court should order a postponement of the Commonwealth Court’s February 17 Order until it finally decides the case.
5. On February 26, 2015, the Commonwealth Court temporarily stayed its February 17 Order, and restored its prior injunction, until the Commonwealth Court decided whether to grant either of the two options requested by PSEA.
6. On March 17, 2015, the Commonwealth Court chose the second option requested by PSEA, and entered an order granting PSEA’s request for a temporary supersedeas of the February 17 Order. The March 17 Order restores the Commonwealth Court’s prior injunction, until the Supreme Court decides whether it will order a postponement of the Commonwealth Court’s February 17 Order until the case is finally decided by the Supreme Court.
BOTTOM LINE: For now, school districts can continue to deny RTKL requests for home addresses of employees, on the basis of the Commonwealth Court’s Order of February 17, 2015. However, please note that if a RTKL request for employee home addresses also asks for other information (such as the names of all employees), other portions of the request may need to be granted.
Please let us know if you have any questions on this, thanks!
We hope you find this issue of KKAL’s Education Law Watch helpful and informative. Please understand the Law Watch is designed to provide information about current developments and require actions. It does not constitute legal advice, and school districts should consult a lawyer knowledgeable in this area of the law prior to taking specific actions on the issues addressed.
If you have any questions regarding any education law matter, including the issues discussed in this newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact us at (717) 392-1100, or email us at the following addresses.
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