02/05/16 – State Capitol Briefs
An appeals court Friday sided with the University of Central Florida in a public-records dispute with a student news organization. Knight News, Inc. argued that the university failed to comply with public-records requests and improperly refused to open student-conduct board hearings to the public, according to Friday’s ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal. But a three-judge panel said the university was justified in refusing to disclose information that could identify students. A story posted last month on the Knight News website said the case involves the university’s closure of hearings related to issues such as fraternity hazing. Also, the Knight News story said the challenge involves the withholding of information that includes the names of Student Government Association members responsible for deciding how student fees are spent. But the appeals court, siding with the university, focused on an exemption in the state’s public-records law for student records that fall under a federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. “Although KNI (Knight News, Inc.) has set forth valid public policy arguments as to why the type of records and information requested in this case should be subject to public disclosure, we believe that those arguments are more properly addressed to the appropriate legislative bodies,” said the ruling, written by Judge Kerry Evander and joined by Chief Judge C. Alan Lawson and Judge James Edwards.