Kentucky’s attorney general has filed a document in WKU’s lawsuit against the College Heights Herald saying that a state Court of Appeals decision last week indicates that a Warren Circuit Court judge should rule in favor of the Herald.
Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a notice of supplemental authority in the Herald case after the Kentucky Court of Appeals determined the University of Kentucky had violated the state Open Records Act in a similar lawsuit UK filed against its student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.
In the Kernel case, UK attempted to withhold files relating to sexual misconduct reports against one of its professors. The claim was that the entirety of files should be withheld based on FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, due to the students mentioned in the files. The court ruled that the file should be properly redacted of information identifying the students and then given to the Kentucky Kernel.
In November 2016, the Herald requested sexual misconduct report records from the eight state universities. Six of the universities gave the redacted files to the Herald, but Kentucky State University and WKU refused. The Herald appealed WKU’s refusal to the attorney general under the Open Records Act, and the attorney general ordered WKU to release the records to the Herald. Instead, WKU sued the Herald in February 2017 to keep the records private.
WKU holds a similar position that FERPA prevents the files from being given to the Herald due to the students mentioned in them.
News reporter Lily Burris can be reached at 270-745-6011 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @lily_burris.