Since the enactment of OPRA, many requestors have tried to evade the statute’s protection of the privacy of personal information found in public records. Two recent Appellate Division cases involve examples of the egregious disregard that some requestors have for privacy rights.
In Wolosky v. Sparta, Bd. of Ed., decided January 13th, the records in question contained references to various students, identified by their initials. Despite having no need for the students’ names, and despite the obvious privacy rights of young students, the requestor argued to the appellate court that OPRA requires disclosure of the students’ full names.
Similarly, in Scheeler v. NJDOE, issued January 19th, the requestor demanded disclosure of school board members’ home addresses, despite having no need for these addresses.
While the court rejected the requestors’ claims in both cases, these are not precedential opinions. The absence of precedent means that nothing prevents future requestors from continuing to file litigation aimed at weakening OPRA’s limits on the disclosure of individuals’ private information.