Online Sunshine Law Training

All elected officials or their appropriate designees are required to attend public records training approved by the attorney general (RC 149.43(E)).  The training must be for three hours for each term of office for which the elected official was appointed or elected to the public office (RC 109.43(B)).

LAF assists district in public records case

The OSBA Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) recently assisted the Strongsville City School District Board of Education by submitting a amicus curiae brief supporting the district's position in a public records case.

On March 4, the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) began a labor strike of the district's facilities. The school board hired temporary replacement teachers and continued operating the schools. The strike continued until April 28, when the parties approved a successor collective bargaining agreement.

Public records requests under FOIA

School districts sometimes receive requests for public records citing the federal Freedom of Information Act, or "FOIA."

Are school districts in Ohio, political subdivisions of the State, subject to the Freedom of Information Act? The answer is no.

Supreme Court of Ohio finds public records requests overbroad

The Supreme Court of Ohio recently ruled on a public records case between Columbus State Community College and a former employee. The ruling may assist school districts dealing with overbroad public records requests.

In the case, State ex Rel. Zidonis v. Columbus State Cmty. Coll., 2012-Ohio-4228, Sunday Zidonis was terminated from her employment with Columbus State. Following her termination, Zidonis made several public records requests to the college for certain emails as well as complaint and litigation files over a six-year period.

Ohio Supreme Court rules on case between Ohio State University and ESPN

The OSBA Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) recently participated in an Ohio Supreme Court case between The Ohio State University (Ohio State) and ESPN. The LAF joined the Ohio Legal Rights Service, Community Legal Aid Services, and Northeast Ohio Legal Services, and submitted an amici curiae brief arguing that Ohio State was prohibited from disclosing the records requested by ESPN pursuant to Ohio's Public Records Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Public records request for employee file

What is a public record?

RC 149.43(A)(1) defines a public record as "records kept by any public office including any state, county, city, village, township, and school district units, and records pertaining to the delivery of educational services by an alternative school in this state kept by the nonprofit or for-profit entity operating the alternative school." A record is defined in RC 149.011 (G) to include "any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic, including electronic records."

Public Record Retention Changes

I recently listened to a webinar conducted by the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) that was designed to review best practices for managing and retaining public records in Ohio. The host of the webinar mentioned a change that HB 153 made to record retention practices. It has the potential to lessen the burden on school districts with regard to the disposal of records, so it's worth repeating.

Ohio Supreme Court rules on post-HB9 penalties case

Ohio Supreme Court expounds on statutory damages, attorneys fees and costs in post-HB 9 public records mandamus case. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on a recent public records case against a police department, and the ruling has implications for all public entities. The case, State ex rel. Doe v. Smith, 123 Ohio St.3d 44, concerned the availability of a sealed juvenile record. A citizen had made a public records request in late November 2007 for records to the Pierce Township Police Dept.

Ohio Supreme Court holds that district-wide exam questions are exempt from disclosure under public records law.

State ex rel. Perrea v. Cincinnati Pub. Sch., Ohio St.3d , 2009-Ohio-4762 Perrea, a teacher at Hughes High School in the Cincinnati Public School District (CPS), filed repeated public records requests seeking copies of the standardized tests that are administered to all of the districts ninth grade students at the end of each semester. Perrea stated that he was concerned about the design, implementation and scoring of the examinations, which were developed by WestEd at a cost of $270,000, and claimed that he did not intend to use the copies for any commercial purpose.