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The Sustainable Journalism Foundation v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Post categories

  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: CV-2021-1770

Court: Cleveland County District Court

Clients: NonDoc Media and Tres Savage

Petition Filed: June 10, 2021

Background: In 2018, Jones Day, a private law firm, began an internal investigation at the University of Oklahoma looking into decades of misreporting alumni donor data to U.S. News & World Report to improve the institution’s ranking on the publication’s “Best Colleges” list. The investigation was later expanded to review allegations of sexual misconduct against David Boren, then the university’s president.

Tres Savage, the editor-in-chief of NonDoc, a nonprofit newsroom in Oklahoma, filed an Oklahoma Open Records Act request in May 2019 with the university for any records of the report created by the internal investigation relating to Boren. The university refused to search for the records and denied Savage’s request, arguing such records would be considered confidential personnel records under the ORA.

KatieBeth Gardner, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney in Oklahoma, later contacted university officials on behalf of NonDoc and Savage and asked them to reconsider and release the requested records. After university officials failed to disclose the records in response to the follow-up request, NonDoc and Savage sued the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents, arguing that the school violated the ORA by unlawfully withholding records responsive to their request.

The lawsuit urges the Cleveland County District Court to order the university to produce the portions of the investigation’s report concerning Boren.

Quote: “NonDoc stands firm in its support of the public’s right to read the Jones Day reports and learn what university-hired investigators found at Oklahoma’s largest institution of higher education,” Savage wrote in a story about the lawsuit.

Filings: 

2021-06-10: Petition for relief for violations of the Oklahoma Open Records Act