Wisconsin court orders release of investigatory records

WISCONSIN – After what seemed like an eternity, theWisconsin State Journal’s Phil Brinkman finally receivedthe public records he had requested more than two years ago.

“The sad part is that it has dragged on for so long,”Brinkman said.

On April 30, the state court of appeals handed Brinkman, a StateJournal reporter, the right to see a confidential report thatinvestigated former Madison School District principal StephenKailin.

Kailin had been accused of sexually molesting young girls whilehe was a teacher. The newspaper had filed a state freedom of informationact request in 1996. The school district was ready to comply,deciding that the public concern outweighed the privacy interestsof Kailin, who thought that his records should remain closed sincehe had resigned.

But in Kailin v. Rainwater, 1999 WL 173628 (Wis. Ct. App.Apr. 30, 1999), the court disagreed with the former principal.After Kailin chose not to appeal, the records were immediatelyreleased.

The school district had placed Kailin on leave in September 1996while it investigated him for “inappropriate conduct”with two school girls, according to a May 1 article by Brinkman.This initial investigation, however, revealed little evidence.But when Kailin was about to return as principal, five women cameforward, saying that they had been molested by Kailin when theywere students at the school, according to the article.

To avoid proceedings that could have led to his termination, Kailinresigned in late 1996.