The Southampton School District’s Board of Education has settled a lawsuit brought against it earlier this summer by Reclaim New York, which charged the district violated Freedom of Information Law. As a part of the settlement, the district will reimburse just over $4,000 in legal fees to the non-profit.
The lawsuit was filed in early August after the district did not provide a report of its 2014 spending, including check numbers in an effort to cross check the information. The FOIL request was denied by district officials who stated releasing the check numbers could lead to potential fraud or other illegal activity. Eventually, the district did release its spending records and later the check numbers — but only after the suit had been filed in the later case.
“Southampton School District finally ran out of excuses for skirting Freedom of Information Law,” Reclaim New York executive director Brandon Muir said in a statement released last week. “After months of wasting time, and forcing Reclaim New York to spend thousands of dollars in legal expenses, their decision to reimburse attorney’s fees is an admission they were wrong to deny repeated requests for basic spending information.”
“This victory says loud and clear that no New Yorker should have to spend huge amounts of time and money to access public records that government owes them under the law,” he continued. “Further, it adds to precedent that will help protect Southampton residents from having to fight through illegal barriers to transparency on their own dime.”