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DPS61 Requests For Review were 'unfounded', writes Public Access Bureau

Original Report written by Reed Sutman on . Updated .

After an August 23rd, 2023 Bus Incident, I submitted a FOIA request for video footage, communications, reports on the incident, and bus driver information.

My request for camera footage was denied, and other records showed that video existed, so I submitted a Request For Review to the Illinois Public Access Counselor.

In another case, I requested union communications and a list of types of records under DPS61's control.

This request was mostly denied, so I submitted another Request For Review (RFR).

In a single letter from Shannon Barnaby, the Public Access Counselor (PAC) determined, after speaking with the School District, that both RFRs were "unfounded". PAC did not allow me to contest any of the claims made by DPS61.

I strongly disagree with PAC's determination regarding the bus video. I already partially covered why, and I intend to cover this in a detailed article at a later time.

I also sent a FOIA Request to the Decatur Police Department for records related to the August 23rd incident. That FOIA will be published at a later time, and was not part of these RFRs.

Request For Review Details

  • Public Body: Decatur Public Schools District 61
  • FOIA Officer: Melissa Bradford
  • Public Access Counselor: Shannon Barnaby, Senior Assistant Attorney General
  • Determination: "unfounded"


  • FOIA Received: Bus FOIA received 2023-09-13. Union FOIA received 2023-08-29.
  • Sent: 2023-10-24 (both RFRs were sent same day)
  • Determination: Nov 13, 2023

FOIA Requests

I submitted one Request For Review for each of these two FOIAs, but only received one determination letter.


For the original FOIA documents, see the FOIA Request links above.

  • Bus Request For Review - An email I sent to the Public Access Bureau requesting review of the Bus FOIA Response.
  • Unions Request For Review - This is an email I sent to the Public Access Bureau requesting review of a FOIA Response regarding DPS61 union communications & the list required by section 5 of FOIA.
  • Determination Letter - Details regarding the Requests For Review, and the determination that they were "unfounded".
  • Emails with Shannon Barnaby - I asked follow-up questions, but didn't receive answers to all of them.


This is an article about the topic Decatur Public Schools.