The Cincinnati Enquirer sent a public records request to The University of Cincinnati seeking police records and the university investigation of a student. The Ohio Court of Claims ordered the university to turn over to the newspaper unredacted copies of the UC law enforcement records and the public files from the university’s investigation that haven’t been released already.
The ruling stated that the records are not protected by the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), nor are they exempt from disclosure under Ohio’s public records law, therefore the university improperly withheld them.
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The Court of Claims concluded the law states that education records don’t include records of an educational institution’s law enforcement unit that are created by the unit, for a law enforcement purpose, and maintained by the unit: “The purposes of the Public Records Act would be thwarted if records of a law enforcement agency could be concealed merely by sharing them with an educational institution.”
Because law enforcement records are public in Ohio, the state’s Public Records Act mandates their release. This can include public files concerning Title IX investigations.
Cincinnati Enquirer v. Univ. of Cincinnati, 2020-Ohio-4958. Case No. 2020-00144PQ.