Report names Michigan among several Big Ten schools who hid COVID discussions from public

A concerning report from The Washington Post detailing behavior of several Big Ten school presidents has been release, and it includes Michigan’s Mark Schlissel.

Schlissel amongst others reportedly employed the use of a private portal to keep discussions regarding returning to school as well as football hidden from the public.

The program is known as the Nasdaq Boardvantage software, and was designed to facilitate meetings and collaboration.

From the report:

Emails from officials at public, taxpayer-funded universities and colleges can be released under Freedom of Information Act laws (Northwestern is a Big Ten school, but it is private). Knowing this, Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, and Rebecca Blank, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin, discussed how to communicate and handle messages without having them subject to public records laws, according to a story published Friday by the Washington Post.

Many conversations about how the conference handled its football season were held on a third-party platform, which, universities have argued, makes them nonpublic records.


“I would be delighted to share information,” Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank responded in an email chain begun in August by Michigan President Mark Schlissel, “but perhaps we can do this through the Big 10 portal, which will assure confidentiality?”

The next day, Schlissel told his colleagues: “Just FYI — I am working with Big Ten staff to move the conversation to secure Boardvantage web site we use for league materials. Will advise.”

The Detroit Free Press currently has several pending FOIA requests regarding the emailed information.

The idea that government officials would intentionally use a technological platform, seemingly with the intent of evading public records laws, is both troubling and wrong on the law,” Adam Marshall, a senior staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Post.

– – Quotes via The Washington Post Link – –

– – Quotes via The Detroit Free PressLink – –

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One Comment

  1. HIPAA, FERPA, DOE, Privacy and Covid In College

    Bottom line, schools cannot disclose everything about a student’s personal protected information but can take actions that do not violate privacy rights to protect the general public.

    Schools must walk a delicate balance when dealing with covid and the lines between disclosure and privacy are anything but clear.


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