School discipline records

After reading and comparing these two articles: Parents can seek records of teachers in sex cases (from New York) and Records-access law open to broad interpretation (from Indiana), I got curious about how difficult it would be to gain access to the disciplinary records of school personnel in Wisconsin.

After looking over the statutes at WikiFOIA, I see that

“any requester has a right to inspect any record” (19.35(1)(a) )


“The right to inspect or copy a record under this paragraph does not apply to any of the following: Any record containing personally identifiable information that is collected or maintained in connection with a complaint, investigation…” (19.35(1)(am)1).

So, that’s a disappointment. Or so I thought: after a little more digging I saw this in section 19.356:

“Except as authorized in this section or as otherwise provided by statute, no authority is required to notify a record subject prior to providing to a requester access to a record containing information pertaining to that record subject”


“A record containing information relating to an employee that is created or kept by the authority and that is the result of an investigation into a disciplinary matter “.

 So, it would seem that I could request a specific teacher’s disciplinary record. They would have to be notified, and then:

 “Within 5 days after receipt of a notice under sub. (2) (a), a record subject may provide written notification to the authority of his or her intent to seek a court order restraining the authority from providing access to the requested record”

and various court proceedings would commence, eventually determining whether or not I could see the records. OK, it’s still a disappointment. Why so much protection of people who screw up at work? Particularly when the question is of behavior near kids, it would seem that this information ought to be much more readily available. I’d like to see Wisconsin follow New York a little more closely regarding access to disciplinary records.


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