PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- A government reform organization filed suit against the Peekskill, Beacon, and Spring Valley school districts for reportedly denying basic Freedom of Information Law requests.
The suit filed by Reclaim New York charges that Beacon City School District in Dutchess County, Peekskill City School District in Westchester County, the Village of Spring Valley in Rockland County, as well as the Town of Deerpark, and Chester Union Free School District in Orange County, all violated the state’s transparency law by refusing to show residents how their tax dollars are spent.
“New York’s systemic corruption shatters trust in government. Hudson Valley residents need to demand better, and that starts with seeing how their money is being spent,” Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir said in a statement. “Governments that try to keep spending in the shadows, and duck the light of transparency will be held accountable. That starts with enforcement and grows stronger when citizens demand oversight.”
Reclaim New York claims to have sent requests to every county, city, town, village and school district in the Hudson Valley.
Reclaim states that Peekskill Schools returned incomplete documents in a delayed response to Reclaim’s request; Spring Valley acknowledged receipt of the request, but never returned the requested documents and ignored an appeal; and Beacon City Schools never formally responded.
Reclaim also stated 10 other government entities not named in the suit denied the FOIL requests unlawfully. This includes the City of Poughkeepsie and the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.
“In the end, 83 percent of lower Hudson Valley governments completed this request on time," Muir said. "That fact shows how inexcusable it is for public officials in any locality to hide how they spend taxpayer money."
This is the third overall round of litigation filed by Reclaim New York. This summer, the organization sued six Long Island localities that violated FOIL.