Madison School District Must Pay $31K for Refusing to Turn Over Employee Sick Notes

The Wisconsin State Journal reports,

The Madison School District has agreed to pay $31,454.57 in legal fees after the State Journal won an open records lawsuit over employee sick notes related to last year’s Capitol protests ….

Prior to the notes being released, the State Medical Examining Board disciplined nine doctors for their involvement in issuing notes during the protest. After the State Journal found at least 15 doctors in the notes who hadn’t been disciplined, the Medical Examining Board decided to investigate 11 additional doctors.

The lawsuit was filed under state public records law, in the wake of the controversy over whether the sick notes were based on honest claims of sickness; the newspaper agreed to have the employee names blacked out to preserve employee privacy.

Speaking of Madison, this James Madison quote — made about support for education funding, but often also used by supporters of public access to government records — might be relevant:

A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will ever govern ignorance; and a people, who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.