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Corvallis School District 509J v. Jacoby

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  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: 22CV05053

Court: Circuit Court, Benton County, Oregon

Client: Kenny Jacoby

Answer to Complaint Filed: May 26, 2022

Background: In October 2021, journalist Kenny Jacoby filed a request with Corvallis School District 509J under Oregon’s Public Records Law seeking complaints, investigation reports and disciplinary actions related to a high school teacher accused of having inappropriate relationships with students.

Though the district provided Jacoby with a redacted copy of a complaint against the teacher in question, it claimed that investigation reports and disciplinary actions could not be released because personnel information about employees of public bodies was exempt from disclosure under a different state law.

Jacoby petitioned the Benton County district attorney to review the school district’s claims, arguing that such information is exempt from disclosure only if privacy concerns outweigh the public interest in the records in question. The district attorney agreed and ordered the school district to turn over the requested records.

In response, the school district sued Jacoby in Benton County’s Circuit Court, challenging the district attorney’s order to make the personnel file available for inspection. Ellen Osoinach, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney in Oregon, is representing Jacoby in this case.

Quote: “The public has a significant interest in learning how [the Corvallis School District] investigates complaints regarding alleged abuses of authority by a teacher charged with the instruction and protection of school children,” Osoinach wrote in an answer to the school district’s complaint.

Filings:

2022-02-09: Complaint

2022-05-26: Answer to complaint