Case Name: Krueger v. Appleton Area School District
Type of Case: Open Meetings
Court: Outagamie County Circuit Court; Court of Appeals District III; Wisconsin Supreme Court
Filed On: July 29, 2013
Current Status: Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that committee was subject to the Open Meetings Law
Over a period of six months, a special committee created by the Appleton Area School District reviewed potential works of fiction to include in a ninth grade reading curriculum. That committee was comprised of teachers and district administrators, who winnowed down a list of over 90 books, forwarding a list of 24 recommended books to the school board. None of its numerous meetings were open to the public, depriving parents, taxpayers, and even other teachers of their right to observe the process.
On behalf of John Krueger, an AASD taxpayer and parent, WILL filed a verified complaint with the Outagamie County District Attorney and the Wisconsin Attorney General and filed a lawsuit on July 29, 2013. The parties filed cross summary judgment motions, but judge after judge recused him or herself from the case, requiring the case to be transferred to a Waupaca County judge. That judge ruled in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed. The court of appeals upheld that decision, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to take the case.
The case garnered significant statewide interest. The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of John Krueger, as did a coalition of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Wisconsin Newspapers Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. A coalition of municipalities and government administrators filed an amicus brief in support of the school district.
In a unanimous decision, the supreme court ruled that CAMRC was a “governmental body” subject to the Open Meetings Law because it had been created pursuant to a government rule.