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University threatens litigation to avoid releasing public records

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  1. Freedom of Information
Northern Kentucky University is considering filing a civil lawsuit after the state attorney general's office ordered the school to release…

Northern Kentucky University is considering filing a civil lawsuit after the state attorney general’s office ordered the school to release correspondence a student reporter had requested in a public-records request, The Northerner reported.

The case began in March when a Northerner reporter requested access to records related to a university grievance investigation, including correspondence between the human resources department and seven named employees and their administrative assistants.

The university denied the request, citing the ongoing investigation and claiming it would be unreasonably burdensome to cull through the “voluminous” university records to produce the correspondence. The newspaper appealed to the state attorney general’s office.

In its April 5 decision, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office said that the university could properly withhold copies of the grievances and records directly related to the ongoing investigation, but said there was "not sufficiently clear and convincing evidence" that producing correspondence unrelated to the investigation would be an "unreasonable burden" on the school.

Following the decision, university counsel sent an e-mail to the reporter that said the university is considering litigating in civil court, which it is allowed to do within 30 days of the decision, instead of releasing the documents, The Northerner reported.