WOLF: Law is Clear: Public Has Right To Know

Letter from Peter Wolf

Law is Clear: Public
Has Right To Know

Former school superintendent Theresa Carlin stated, “I’d love to comment and share the story, but am not able due to the NDA …” (Non-Disclosure Agreement).

When a public employee resigns from a position and taxpayers are obligated to pay the employee’s salary and health benefits for an additional year, the public has a right to know what happened.

Supt. Carlin and the school district entered into a “Release and Resignation Agreement.” The agreement indicated that the superintendent was withdrawing the complaint she filed through the State Division of Human Rights and was resigning her position. The agreement states further that it is a confidential communication between the school district and the superintendent. Neither party is allowed to disseminate or release information regarding the agreement unless required by law.

Fortunately the Freedom of Information Law requires that the agreement be released to the public, otherwise it would never see the light of day. Kudos to Nicole Miskell, a resident of the district who obtained the agreement through a Freedom of Information Law request. Ms. Miskell stated, “I FOIL documents once a month now, because it is the only way to get information. If I ask questions, I don’t get answers.”

There is no such thing as a confidential legal agreement when taxpayer funds are involved. Government officials try to keep such agreements confidential but the law is clear on this issue.

Peter Wolf
President, New York Coalition for Open Government

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