Each year, the Agency of Education collects data on bullying, harassment, and hazing at individual Vermont schools. Although Vermont law requires the State Board of Education to annually produce a school-by-school report of this data, that never happened.
In 2016, while working as a reporter for the Rutland Herald, Lola Duffort contacted the Agency and requested the school-specific data records to research the extent to which Vermont’s schools were responding to these incidents. The Agency of Education denied her request, saying that, though the Agency had the data in its database, compiling it would “require the creation of new records”—something the Agency said it was not required to do.
In May of 2017, Rutland Superior Court Judge Helen Toor ruled that extracting and compiling data from a database did not constitute creation of a new record, and that the Agency must release the information.
Over the ensuing months, the parties negotiated a settlement finalized in February of 2018. As required in the settlement, upon a joint motion from the parties, the court dismissed the case and ordered the defendants to pay $30,500 in attorneys’ fees to the ACLU.