Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the annual exam given to ninth-graders in Cincinnati’s public schools is not a public record subject to disclosure because it is a trade secret and therefore excempt from public records law, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
In a 5-2 decision, the justices sided with the school district’s attorneys, who argued that if the school provided the test questions, it would cost the district $270,000 to formulate new questions for the exam the following year.
The suit was brought by a science teacher who wanted the evaluate the questions on the exam for accuracy and fairness. His attorney argued the district had given up its claim that the questions were trade secrets because they had already been read by hundreds of students and school authorities.
In years past, the Ohio Department of Education has released the questions on similar exams given in lower grades so that students could prepare for the test, but no longer does so in an effort to save money.
In her opinion for the majority, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger delineated the difference between Cincinnati’s test, which remains the same from year to year, and the release of other tests, which draw from a bank of thousands of possible exam questions.