WKU Requests Stay in Lawsuit Against Student Newspaper

Apr 26, 2017

Credit CHRONICAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Western Kentucky University is asking a court to put its lawsuit against the student newspaper on hold.  WKU is suing the College Heights Herald over an open records request into the school’s sexual misconduct investigations. 

A motion filed in Warren Circuit Court requests a stay on WKU’s lawsuit until similar litigation is resolved between the University of Kentucky and its campus newspaper.  Tom Kerrick, the attorney representing WKU, says in the motion that a stay would save time and reduce legal expenses.  

"These are novel issues of national magnitude for Kentucky courts, and it only makes economic sense for this action to be held in abeyance until these legal issues, which affect the University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, and other universities in Kentucky (if not the nation), are resolved," Kerrick stated.

At issue is whether Title IX sexual misconduct investigation records are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and therefore, not subject to Kentucky’s Open Records Act. 

Student newspapers at WKU and UK were denied access to documents on how the school has handled sexual misconduct allegations. 

WKU says it’s withholding the documents in order to protect the privacy of those who have filed complaints about sexual misconduct at the school.

Both publications appealed WKU’s decision.  Attorney General Andy Beshear was also denied a confidentially review of the requested records.  Beshear found that WKU violated the state’s Open Records Act and intervened in the lawsuit as a plaintiff.

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