School corporations don’t need to list teacher salaries in public notice ads, but must list range 


 The following questions were submitted by LaGrange Standard and LaGrange News, Greene County Daily World (Linton), and Spencer County Leader (Rockport): 


 Follow what subject matters are noted for an executive session to determine needed records 

Q: The Shipshewana Town Board meeting contained an item that drew the newspaper’s interest. “We had a motion to uphold the actions of an executive session and instruct the president of the board to take the agreed upon action. This passed three to one.” How does this fit under the state’s Open Door Law?

A: Final actions must occur in a public meeting. In this case, the final action was to delegate the authority to act on items that were discussed in the executive session to the president of the council with no specific instruction on how he/she should act.

It means the newspaper must closely follow what subject matters were noted for an executive session and then determine what records requests may be necessary to follow the actions the president could take – if he/she decides not to answer questions about the actions to be taken.

For example, if the council met to discuss alleged misconduct of an employees. You might have to ask for records from personnel files on any final disciplinary action taken in the two weeks following the executive session.

 Printing name of inmate in sexual relationship with sheriff’s employee is an ethical question

Q: The newsroom staff is discussing whether the sheriff can legally withhold the name of an inmate from a report of a sheriff’s department employee who faces criminal charges for a sexual relationship with an inmate under I.C. 35-44.1-3-10. There also is the question as to whether the newspaper should run the inmate’s name if it is made available.

A: The code citation you provided makes it a felony for a jail employee to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a person who is subject to lawful detention or lawful supervision. It is not a defense that the act was consensual. It does not fall under the code citations that require a law enforcement agency to withhold the name of a victim in a sex crime (I.C. 35-42-4 or I.C. 35-42-3.5) found in the state’s Access to Public Records Act at I.C. 5-14-3-5(c)(3)(B).

The name of the inmate would be included in the probable cause affidavit in the case filed by the county prosecutor. Since the record wasn’t sealed by the judge, there would be no legal repercussions for the newspaper if it reveals the name of the inmate. Anyone could get the name from the court file as a disclosable public record.

That leaves the newspaper with a policy decision on whether to identify the female inmate or not.

On one hand, the criminal defense system is set up so that the accused can challenge the accuser. That’s one of the reasons why victims of crime are generally identified in state laws across the country. The public has an opportunity to judge the strength of the charges based on who says they were the victim of a robbery, assault, etc.

On the other hand, there’s the argument against re-victimizing a sexual assault victim by identifying them in the media. Can a woman feel comfortable in resisting the advances of a jailer when the jailer has the ability to make the inmate’s life exceedingly difficult if she rebuffs his advances? So was the sex really consensual? That’s why Indiana’s legislature made the act itself a crime to prevent a jailer from taking advantage of the unequal status of the two.

Legally, there’s nothing to prevent the newspaper from identifying the inmate, but personally I can see the argument for treating the inmate as one would treat a rape victim. Unless the rape victim came to the newspaper saying she wanted her story told, would you identify the rape victim called to testify in an open courtroom? My guess is no.

 School corporations don’t need to list teacher salaries in public notice ads, but must list range 

Q: I have a question about the school financial report. North Spencer listed salaries of employees by name. I don’t think we included that list last year in the public notice advertisement. I can call the office but thought I’d check with you if we should include it since they provided it?

A: Not all salaries have to be listed, but no statute would be violated if they decide to add that information. The relevant statute lists what must be included and specifically says the school corporation doesn’t have to list teachers’ salaries, but must include at least salary ranges.

You can run as given or reach out to superintendent and ask if that was an intentional decision. You could earn some goodwill by pointing out possible error on their part if it turns out to have been mistake. On the plus side, you can file that list for future reference if needed even if you don’t include in the public notice. 

 Send your questions to Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel,