Newark officials must hand over a list of emails related to the $100 million donation Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave to city schools, an Essex County Superior Court judge ordered on Friday.*
Judge Rachel N. Davidson also opposed the city's motion to dismiss a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Jersey (ACLU-NJ), which filed a lawsuit against Newark on behalf of a local organization, the Secondary Parent Council (SPC), according to the order.
The SPC, which is made up of city parents and grandparents, wants greater transparency on details about the Facebook donation and documents related to the grant, which was first publicized by Mayor Cory Booker in the fall of 2010.
Davidson said a log listing the emails about the donation must be produced by the city by Feb. 10, according to the court order.
"Michael Witt, the attorney representing the city, acknowledged that the city has some documents, which he believed would comprise roughly 50 pages of emails," said a press release from the ACLU-NJ.
But the city has said in the past it doesn't have any documents, the press release said. And if they do, they are protected by "mayoral executive privilege, which does not exist in New Jersey," ACLU-NJ said.
“As parents and grandparents, we simply want to fully understand the impact of this gift on our children and get a better grasp on this aspect of their education,” said Laura Baker of the Secondary Parent Council in a statement released to the ACLU-NJ. “Refusing to share details the public deserves to know sends a message that outside funders have more insight into the Newark Public Schools than the community members who have a stake in the process.”
The city's Corporation Counsel Anna P. Pereira released the following statement Friday night: "It would be inappropriate for the city to comment at this time as the matter is pending in court."
Other Patch reports about the Facebook donation and the ACLU-NJ lawsuit:
*Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly said the city must hand over the actual emails. The city must hand over a log of the emails instead.