Q&A: Report about school hazing

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From the Greensburg Daily News:

Q: We have an incident involving hazing at one of our public middle schools. The investigation is complete, and there are no criminal charges being sought, but administrative action was taken.

After breaking the story, the school system is being tight lipped about the results of an investigation they didn’t want reported in the first place.

Do I have access rights to the investigation report, and if so, do I need to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get it? 

A: If police were asked to investigate, you should be able to get the “daily log” report on the incident that police have to create within 24 hours of getting a call.

But that will be early in the investigation; any records from the investigation by the police are disclosable at the discretion of the police.

As to the school, they are restrained by the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, which protects educational records.

Unfortunately, Indiana courts have applied this to disciplinary records of students.

If the school board voted on the disciplinary action, that would have to be done in an open meeting and the results would be reflected in the memoranda of the meeting.

But if disciplinary action was taken by the superintendent or principal, you wouldn’t have an Open Door Law window to the decision.

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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