Parents Sue Newark Over Zuckerberg Donation

Demand full disclosure on how $100M is being used

Mark Zuckerberg’s highly publicized $100 million gift to Newark’s public schools last year has led to a lawsuit from parents seeking full disclosure about how that money is being used. The Secondary Parent Council, backed by the ACLU of New Jersey, is suing the city of Newark for failing to turn over correspondence related to the Facebook founder's donation.

Back in April, member of the group requested copies of messages between Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his staff, and various other people, including Zuckerberg, Governor Chris Christie, and state officials. They also wanted to see messages exchanged between the mayor’s staff and several high-profile education donors, such as Bill Gates, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, and the foundation started by former SunAmerica CEO Eli Broad.

The Parent Council said in its lawsuit that it had requested to see those messages because it has “a strong interest in insuring that appropriate public officials, rather than private individuals, decide how allocate the donated funds.”

The group’s original request was denied in July, with city attorneys saying that it was “too broad.” A spokeswoman for the mayor said that there are no documents showing any correspondence between Booker and Zuckerberg, although she didn’t mention any of the other messages that had been requested. Spending by the foundation started by Zuckerberg’s donation “is public and has been made public,” she said.