Court says SIU cannot bar public view of contracts

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard cannot keep the public from viewing his and other school officials’ employment contracts, an Illinois Appellate Court ruled Wednesday.

The 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield decided this week that public employment contracts are public information and are not exempt as personnel files, state court records filed Wednesday.

The opinion was in response to a lawsuit filed by The Gazette-Democrat, a Union County weekly newspaper, that stemmed from Southern Illinois University’s refusal to release employment contracts, namely Poshard’s and other top SIU administrators, including SIU Public Policy Institute Director Mike Lawrence and former SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler.

The circuit court had ruled against the newspaper, and with help from the Illinois Press Association’s Legal Defense Fund, the case was appealed to the 4th District. It is not yet known if SIU will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The court in its ruling stated that “disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials shall not be considered an invasion of personal privacy.”