National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Editorial: Iowa personnel records law needs review

From Dubuque Telegraph Herald:  When an individual makes an abrupt departure from a job within a public institution, those in charge will usually avoid discussing the circumstances of the departure with one simple claim: "It's a personnel issue. And personnel records can't be released to the public."

Only, that might not be quite accurate. The way Iowa Code chapter 22.7 is written, it can be interpreted to allow for the custodian of a record to use his or her discretion when it comes to the release of personnel information.

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The recent case involving the firing of Division of Criminal Investigation Supervisor Larry Hedlund deserves such discretion. Hedlund claims his firing was brought about because he in April reported that a vehicle being driven by a state trooper and carrying the governor was traveling far in excess of the speed limit. Hedlund intends to file a wrongful-termination lawsuit, claiming the firing was in retaliation over bringing to light the governor's speeding vehicle and not because of anything in his personnel file.

The state says that's not the case. The firing, it insists, is based on job performance unrelated to the speeding report.

Get the rest here.

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