A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:
Florida appellate court: Student complaints are public record
TALLAHASSEE — The identity of students who submit complaints about teachers to public schools, including colleges and universities, are public records and must be disclosed to citizens, a Florida appellate court ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said Gainesville-based Santa Fe College must release the name of a student who sent the school an email complaining about former math instructor Darnell Rhea’s classroom performance.
Barbara Petersen, president of the Tallahassee-base First Amendment Foundation, said the ruling is important because courts in some states have interpreted the federal Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act differently.
Visit Jacksonville.com for the rest.
Minnesota Supreme Court authorizes pilot program for cameras in the courtroom
[T]he Minnesota Supreme Court authorized a “…two-year pilot project allowing cameras in the courtroom in civil proceedings with the consent of the district court judge, but without requiring the consent of all the parties.” Minn. Sup. Ct. Order ADM09-8009.
Restrictions apply that do not allow video coverage of jurors or of witnesses unless they consent. This harkens back to the long-held position by many in the legal community that cameras in courtrooms will unduly influence witnesses and jurors.
Visit Echo Press for the rest.
Arkansas Game And Fish Director rethinking exclusions from critical report
LITTLE ROCK — The director of the state Game and Fish Commission said Thursday the agency’s legal staff is researching whether certain information should not have been redacted in a report on a survey of commission employees. The report, which revealed widespread employee discontent with upper management and the agency’s governing board, was conducted by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va., at the commission’s request as a way to gauge employee morale. A report on the survey released this week contains large sections that are blacked out.
Visit The Times Record for the rest.
West Virginia FOIA request called ‘legally defective’
BECKLEY — “Legally defective” and in conflict with West Virginia law is how Charleston attorney Bob Kiss has characterized the second Freedom of Information Act request by a Clarksburg consultant seeking to look at overtime records for two Raleigh County government bodies.
Kiss informed Queen in a letter that his FOIA request was improperly delivered to his office May 1.
Visit The Register-Herald for the rest.