Where Did the Cash Go? The Rye City School District Won’t Say

In the Rye City School District, officials forked over more than $31,000 to a third-party vendor that conducts “equity audits.” But the school district is refusing to say any more. GJC represents the Goldwater Institute in a lawsuit that seeks to shine a light on how the school district is spending taxpayer funds.

A group of concerned parents discovered that in 2020, the Rye district entered into a $31,125 agreement with the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development for professional services related to the “Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.”

The Goldwater Institute then sought more information about this use of taxpayer resources by submitting a public records request under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to Rye about the NYU  proposal. In response, the district provided the proposal, but refused to release any communications that led to its decision to spend tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on a private vendor. What did Rye officials determine about its schools that required “transformation”?

Rye also did not release any information about its Race, Inclusivity & Community Task Force. It wouldn’t disclose its process for selecting and approving members or the “Community Norms” developed by the task force, which appear to have been funded as part of the NYU proposal. The district claims a FOIL exception that exempts subjective deliberations allows it to withhold these public records. But Goldwater’s records request seeks factual information about the proposal and the “inclusivity” task force—the type of information to which the public records law is intended to apply.

GJC filed a petition on Goldwater’s behalf with the New York Supreme Court for Westchester County to compel Rye to produce these records.