Grant will help Otterbein student journalists challenge limited access to campus police records

A year ago, Jordan Bradley detailed in the SPLC Report how student journalists at Otterbein University have had difficulty gaining access to campus police reports.The troubles started in 2011, when the Ohio school's security team was converted into a commissioned police force, said Hillary Warren, who advises The Tan & Cardinal. Then, campus police began responding to incidents that city police once handled. At first, campus police didn't release any records, even those required under the Jeanne Clery Act, Warren told us.

Relief for records requestors? Schools ordered to pay fines, attorney’s fees in open records lawsuits

Violating state open records laws could actually cost you a lot of money, officials in Washington and Iowa have learned this month.First, the University of Washington was ordered last week to pay more than $720,000 in fines for withholding 12,000 pages of public records from a former professor who wanted to see whether she was wrongfully denied tenure at the University of Washington's Tacoma campus because of her gender or heritage.

Penn State’s silence on Clery report shows need for public records reform

Last week, the Department of Education issued its preliminary report, part of its investigation into whether Pennsylvania State University violated the Clery Act in its handling of allegations of sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. It will likely be years, though, before the public learns what the department uncovered in its far-reaching review of campus safety practices at the school since 1998 — one of the largest and most high-profile investigations ever.The reason for the secrecy is two-fold. A federal law requires the Department of Education to maintain the confidentiality of any program reviews until the final program report is issued.

Virginia Tech student newspaper won’t appeal dismissal in lawsuit seeking records about missing student

The case involving police records from a 1998 missing person investigation has been dismissed because the West Virginia State Police claim the records are part of an ongoing investigation.The Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech's student newspaper, wanted to access the police investigation file in 2009 when reporter Caleb Fleming was writing a story about the 10th anniversary of former Virginia Tech student Robert Kovack's disappearance.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Federal appeals court puts a stop to the “FOIA death spiral”

For years, federal agencies have been freezing journalists in public-records purgatory with a maddening tactic: The "thanks for your request, we'll respond to it (someday)" letter.It's the bureaucratic equivalent of the spinning beach ball of death, and twice as frustrating.Getting the "non-response response" letter trapped the requester in a no-win predicament.