Documents regarding Debra Hoskins, former director of the EKU Center for the Arts, were ordered to be released. Photo submitted

Documents regarding Debra Hoskins, former director of the EKU Center for the Arts, were ordered to be released.
Photo submitted

BY: WESLEY ROBINSON
wesley_robinson28@mymail.eku.edu

A county judge this week ruled this week that Eastern must release the majority of its records involving its former director of the EKU Center for the Arts, Debra Hoskins.

Hoskins resigned last June after a host of complaints surfaced about her tenure as manager.

Hoskins and the university have 14 days to appeal the ruling or they will be compelled to turn over documents to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which originally sought the documents under a Freedom of Information request.

Attorneys representing Hoskins and Eastern both said neither party had decided whether they would appeal the ruling.

The documents sought by the Herald-Leader related to her tenure as director of the new $33 million facility, which opened last year. Hoskins resigned last year in June after university officials overseeing the Center sought to have her fired but were rebuffed by the community operations board that oversees the center.

Previously withheld documents were released in March included in the documents internal audit report, which detailed the mishandling of credit card information, complimentary tickets, the underpayment of acts performing at the Center, overpayment of service contracts, issues with the Center’s procard and the sale and storage of alcoholic beverages.

Earlier this year, the university and Hoskins released some of the documents concerning her tenure, many of which highlighted concerns about the center’s questionable handling of customer’s credit card numbers and information from her former employer, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts in Danville.

But several documents were withheld by Eastern, which cited a confidentiality agreement with Hoskins and claimed that releasing the remaining documents would violate that agreement.

Madison County Circuit Judge William G. Clouse Jr. met with attorneys for Eastern, Hoskins and the Herald-Leader on Tuesday to weigh whether the remaining documents would need to be disclosed and what information could be redacted to protect the privacy of people unrelated to the case.

Ephraim Helton, an attorney representing Hoskins, said there were between 19 and 23 documents in dispute. And at a previous hearing on April 11, Judge Clouse said the only way he could address the situation was to see the records and he would rule on each record individually.

Kif Skidmore, the attorney representing the Herald-Leader, said the documents related the end of Hoskins employment with Eastern will be released. The majority of the documents are to be given to the Herald-Leader. Some documents, however, will be excluded, such as those containing personal information of employees not related to decision making in the case and those that contain student information, which could run afoul with federal protections for student privacy.

“The judge went through each individual argument and considered all parties arguments,” Skidmore said. “It was a very well-reasoned decision.”

Peter Baniak, executive editor at the Herald-Leader, said the newspaper filed the open records request last fall and, at this point, is still waiting to learn what the documents contain.

“We don’t know what’s in the documents, that’s why we feel strongly that they need to be released,” Baniak said. “We feel like this information falls within the open records act and should be released so the public needs to know. EKU is a public institution, and it’s supported with public dollars. And it therefore falls under the state’s open record laws.”

Previously withheld documents were released in March included in the documents internal audit report, which detailed the mishandling of credit card information, complimentary tickets, the underpayment of acts performing at the Center, overpayment of service contracts, issues with the Center’s procard and the sale and storage of alcoholic beverages.