Residents challenge withholding of public records regarding $100M gift to city schools.
On August 23, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the City of Newark for refusing to release records concerning the $100 million gift that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg pledged to Newark Mayor Cory Booker last September to transform the city's public school system. SPC, an organization made up of parents and grandparents of Newark public school students, filed a request under the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to review correspondence between Zuckerberg, Newark employees and the New Jersey state government, among other affiliated foundations and corporations related to the Zuckerberg gift. The community-based organization was interested in learning more details about how the highly-publicized $100 million gift, announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Sept. 24, 2010, would be spent. After requesting several extensions in order to locate the responsive documents, Newark denied the request on July 19, 2011. In its rejection, the city claimed, among other things, that the communications between Mayor Booker and Zuckerberg "were not made in the court of the mayor's official duties." The letter also stated, to the extent Mayor Booker was exercising his official duties, the documents were subject to executive and deliberative privileges.
Case Status: On January 27, 2012, Judge Davidson ordered the City of Newark to turn over an index of all the emails regarding the Zuckerberg gift.