I was accused of refusing to provide care and poor professional judgment when working as school nurse. I was essentially blackballed from any other employment or position.
When I requested documentation under the Freedom of Information Law to support the allegations, none was provided, but there was no retraction. Any suggestions?
Nancy Brent replies:
Freedom of Information laws exists on the state and on the federal level. Obviously, if you sought information about your employment while in a school district, you would have used your states freedom of information act.
Whether on the state or the federal level, the law requires that, among other things, each public body (defined in the law) must make available to any person for inspection or copying all public records maintained by the public body. State and federal freedom of information laws also contain steps on how to request records (in writing or in person), the length of time the public body has to respond to a request, and an appeal process if the public body does not respond to the request.
Another component of freedom of information acts, however, is what public records are defined as. In many acts, personnel records are exempt from a request under the freedom of information law. Thus, whether your request was covered under your state’s act would need to be explored.
Consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state about your states freedom of information act would be essential. If the act is applicable, an appeal following the acts guidelines for a non-response may be possible. If the act is not applicable, the attorney can also inform you of other ways to obtain the information you seek.
Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.