Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

Must read FOI stories – 6/20/14

Every week I’ll be doing a round up of the freedom of information stories around the Web. If you have an FOI story you want to share, send me an email or tweet me.

  • In the above link about the document seizure by the U.S. Marshals, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion to try and claw back those records, but the judge dismissed it.
  • FOIA request reveals brutal photos of seals, dolphins, whales, and other sea life that were caught in California commercial fishing boats that use drift gillnets — one mile-long mesh nets that are intended to catch swordfish.
  • The Kentucky Court of Appeals has affirmed a Circuit Court decision paving the way for public access to court records related to a public official’s job performance and the contentious relationship she had with the former president of a local community college.
  • An appeals court backs a man who made an anonymous public records request. The court ruled that the city of Greenacres, Fla., could not require the man to fill out a form before obtaining the documents.
  • St. Louis police records released per a judge’s order in public records lawsuit show how vice and other drug officers scalped the scalpersFifteen police officers were either suspended and demoted or otherwise disciplined for giving St. Louis Cardinals’ championship tickets seized from scalpers to friends and family.
  • The Miami Herald questions the Department of Children & Families’ “paperless” investigation into why there were originally no records — “no reports, memos, notes, emails or smoke signals” —  of the deaths of at least 30 children who were in DCF’s active case files.
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons is being sued for FOIA violations by Prisology, a non-profit criminal justice reform organization. They claim that the FBOP has been non-compliant with the law, which has required for decades the Bureau post online substantial information about its day-to-day decision-making.

David Schick is the summer 2014 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern for SPJ,  reporting and researching public records and FOI issues. Contact him at or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick


Jerry Sandusky investigation and University of Iowa sexual assault details kept secret

Open records could have expedited Jerry Sandusky’s recent conviction.

Recently, former FBI director Louis Freeh released findings from an investigation into the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State sex abuse story. The report issued several recommendations for preventing similar incidents in the future, but fell short of mentioning more robust open government laws in Pennsylvania, as Al Tompkins of Poynter noted.

Penn State is one of four universities exempt from the state’s open records laws.

Stronger open records laws may have allowed access to investigations into Sandusky’s behavior earlier than the decade plus it took for the the initial 1998 investigation to come to light, Tompkins wrote.

Read more on the potential impact of open records laws in the Sandusky case.

Iowa university retains documents under FERPA

In an incident involving similar restricted access to documents, the Iowa Supreme Court said even redacted sexual assault records would remain private.

The Iowa City Press Citizen requested relevant documents related to a 2007 case involving University of Iowa football players’ alleged sexual assault of a female student athlete.

The university released 18 of 3,000 documents and claimed the release of additional documents would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

FERPA protects the personal information of students  and orders financial sanctions on educational institutions that fail to comply.

The Press Citizen sued for release of additional documents and was granted release of additional documents in 2008 and 2009, although courts ordered some redacted. The university appealed.

Iowa’s Supreme Court recently ruled in the school’s favor. The Court justified its ruling with provisions from a 2009 Department of Education ruling preventing disclosure if the requester knew the  identity of  people in the records.

Frank LoMonte, executive director of Student Press Law Center, said this ruling went too far.

“Extremists in the U.S. Department of Education have hijacked a well-intentioned law about the confidentiality of academic records and, by their bizarre interpretations, transformed it into the Federal Education Rapists’ Protection Act,” he said, according to the Student Press Law Center.

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Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with the Society of Professional Journalists. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – –  or on twitter – @whitevs7

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