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State Supreme Court: Public employment contracts are public

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The state Supreme Court has ruled that the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (IFOIA) covers the employment contracts of public officials.

The case involved an IFOIA request for school superintendent Gary Catalani’s employment agreement with the Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200. In 2006, when Wheaton resident Mark Stern first asked to look at the agreement, Catalani was Illinois’ highest-paid school executive. He is now a school superintendent in Arizona.

The district had previously provided copies of Catalani’s contract to two newspapers, but balked at Stern’s request, arguing it was part of a personnel record and therefore not covered by IFOIA.

In 2007, a lower court ruling backed the school district, a decision that was reversed on appeal.

But Stern emerged victorious when the Illinois Supreme Court heard his appeal. It instructed the lower court judge to redact all personal data such as Social Security numbers or anything that might result in an unwarranted invasion of Catalani’s privacy and then release the information to Stern.

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