An Ohio teachers union is suing the school district in a Cleveland suburb for the names, addresses and phone numbers of hundreds of teachers who crossed the picket line during an acrimonious strike last year.

During the eight-week-long strike in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville more than a year ago, district officials brought in 372 substitute teachers to keep the classrooms open. When the subs crossed the picket line, there were the usual angry words and accusations. But when the strike ended, Cleveland Teachers Union Local 279, which represented the striking teachers, filed a Freedom of Information request for the names and addresses of all the substitute teachers.

The district refused, citing safety concerns for the substitute teachers, but a court ruled in favor of the union. Now the case will be heard by the Buckeye State’s Supreme Court, and some advocates of the open records law say the court must make the district comply.

“Courts must set a high bar of evidentiary proof before undermining the Ohio open records law,” Dennis Hetzel, executive director of Ohio Coalition for Open Government, told

Despite the school district’s claims that turning over the names could put the substitute teachers at risk of harassment or even harm, Hetzel said a decision to make such public information private could have a dangerous ripple effect on other cases of government transparency. He acknowledged that there are circumstances where keeping identities confidential is warranted, but he does not see it in this case.

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