Q&A: School citations


The following questions came from South Bend Tribune:

Q: I’ve been attempting to find out how many citations with real-life implications have been given to South Bend schools students, some as young as 10. I received a letter from the South Bend city attorney denying my request to see citations issued to students younger than 18. The argument of the city attorney is that citations are investigatory records. Do we have any basis for objecting this?

A: The city attorney is correct that investigatory records can be kept confidential at the discretion of the law enforcement entity. But citations are notifications to the person (student in this case) of official action that is being taken against the individual and don’t fall under the investigatory records exception.

Otherwise, arrest warrants and grand jury indictments would be secret. That would be contrary to the intent of the law and our history of opposition to Star Chamber justice.

I’d challenge them on the investigatory records stance. If they hold firm, I suggest you pose the question to Public Access Counselor Luke Britt.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.