The School FOIA Project: Uncovering Racial Disparities in School Discipline and How to Respond
Since 1984, Illinois has had a Freedom of Information Act law on the books that allows anyone—including educational advocates—to request public records. This creates a useful avenue to access and review records for any public entity, including public school districts. This Article proposes that FOIA creates a powerful pathway for educational advocates to request information from school districts that can be tailored to drive reforms. This Article uses a case study focused on racial disparities in school disciplinary actions to illustrate how any educational advocate could use FOIA to obtain the relevant information to create data-driven arguments to advocate for change. This Article offers a blueprint for other advocates, examining what information is accessible, how to access it, and what to do once the information is received. Ultimately, this Article aims to inspire other advocates to recognize the tool that is the Illinois FOIA law and to enable those advocates to add FOIA to their toolkits for educational change.