By Kyle Woosley
Eastern violated the Kentucky Open Records Act by withholding information regarding Debra Hoskins and her resignation as director of the EKU Center for the Arts, according to a report released by the attorney general.
On June 20, the Lexington Herald-Leader filed an open records request for information on Hoskins and was denied.
According to the attorney general report, “Eastern Kentucky University violated the Open Records Act in partially denying the request for records relating to the Center for the Arts and its former director.”
The report also stated “internal audits and all personal records relating to Ms. Hoskins other than redacted Position Action Forms for the position” were excluded from the documents received by Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Rich Copley.
The Lexington Herald-Leader then filed an appeal with the attorney general, but Eastern said it had an Agreement and Release with Hoskins, which included a confidentiality clause.
The attorney general sided with the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“It is our decision that the Herald-Leader is entitled to the requested internal audits and personnel records ‘pertinent to [Debra Hoskins’] performance as director of the Center from February 2011 and June 2012,’ included evaluations, performance appraisals, letters of commendation and letters of reprimand, as well as the June 12 termination letter and severance agreement,” said the report.
Jon Fleischaker, who wrote Kentucky’s open records law, said he agrees with the decision.
“I think it’s a good decision and it’s right,” Fleischaker said. “It is clearly information about the operation of a public facility. This is not a private matter.”
Fleischaker said according to the law the university confidentiality clause mentioned by the university is invalid.
“It’s been an established law for a very long time that a public agency cannot enter into a contract with an individual or company to make a record private when a law says it’s already public,” Fleischaker said.
After the appeal was approved on Oct. 29, Judy Spain, Eastern’s university counsel, said the university would be releasing the previously withheld information.
“We recognize the authority of the attorney general in open records matters and appreciate the clarification provided in this specific matter,” Spain said. “We accept the decision and will comply.”
In a response to The Progress’ open records request filed Oct. 29 for the same information, Spain said the documents would be released today, Thursday, Nov. 1, pending a court order telling the university otherwise.