Q&A: Records on school computers

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From the Peru Tribune:

Q: A former basketball coach resigned after an alleged misconduct situation at North Miami High School in Denver, Ind. He was hired July 16 by the Madison Consolidated School Corp. based up a letter of recommendation from the North Miami Principal. The school board told administrators not to endorse the coach in question.

Do Public Access Laws allow us to view content on school-owned computers? The computer in question would be the principal’s.

A: Public school district records fall under the scope of the Open Door Law in the same fashion as records of other state and local government agencies, so records created on a a school-owned computer are subject to access laws.

Before you get too excited though, the school may argue that a recommendation letter would fall under the personnel file of an employee or former employee, which would give them the discretion to claim confidentiality.

But that’s a discretionary exception to disclosure, and if the school board is mad about it, they could obviously order its release.

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

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