Friday, March 23, 2001

Student discipline records are public, justices say




The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Hardin County schools must disclose student disciplinary records, after removing information that might identify individuals, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

        The school system had argued that disciplinary statistics, taken together with other information available to the public, could be used to identify the cases of individual students, which is prevented by state and federal law.

        The records were sought by a reporter for the News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown. The newspaper asked for records from 1990 to 1996.

        The attorney general, who reviews cases under the Kentucky Open Records Law, the Hardin County Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals, had differing views on the matter.

        The Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, said the records must be disclosed, once individual identities are removed.

        Justice Donald Wintersheimer said the school, the year the case occurred, the reason for the disciplinary action and the action taken do not reveal the student involved.

        The court said there is a compelling public interest on matters involving school discipline.

        “Clearly, in today's changing society, a vital piece of information for parents and students is the school policy regarding disciplinary measures,” Justice Wintersheimer said.

       



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