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Illinois exempts school employee records from public access

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  1. Freedom of Information
Illinois legislators passed a bill yesterday that will exempt the performance evaluations of teachers and school administrators from public disclosure…

Illinois legislators passed a bill yesterday that will exempt the performance evaluations of teachers and school administrators from public disclosure if it is signed into law, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported. 

The change comes just five months after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the state’s Freedom of Information laws. That revision did not specifically exempt the personnel records of public employees, though a spokeswoman in the state attorney general’s office said she thought legislators never intended for the performance evaluations of school employees to be subject to disclosure.

Teachers’ unions pushed for this week’s changes, contending that performance evaluations are private and their disclosure would interfere with the evaluation process. Press advocates maintain that the records should be subject to freedom-of-information laws — redacting key personal information if necessary — so the performance of public employees can be evaluated.

“I think it’s in the public interest to know whether someone is substandard in terms of their performance,” Beth Bennett, director of government relations for the Illinois Press Association, told the State Journal-Register.

A union spokesman who represents the interests of 75,000 state, county and municipal employees said he hoped to extend the revision to cover all public employees.