The School FOIA Project: Uncovering Racial Disparities in School Discipline and How to Respond

53 Pages Posted: 7 May 2021

See all articles by James Naughton

James Naughton

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Date Written: May 3, 2021


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.

Keywords: education, education law, race, equity, school-to-prison pipeline, freedom of information act, FOIA, freedom of information, disparity, Illinois law, open meetings act, OPA

JEL Classification: I2, I20, I21, I24, I28, C99, K00, K10, K19, K30, K39, K40, Z18, Y10

Suggested Citation

Naughton, James, The School FOIA Project: Uncovering Racial Disparities in School Discipline and How to Respond (May 3, 2021). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 50, No. 4, 2021 , Available at SSRN:

James Naughton (Contact Author)

Loyola University Chicago School of Law ( email )

25 E Pearson St.
Room 1041
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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