The state attorney general ruled Monday that the University of Kentucky violated the state’s Open Records Act when it failed to provide a detailed explanation why a request for emails and other records from the College of Law was delayed.
UK also failed to give William Teague, who requested the documents, a date for when the emails and other correspondence would be available, which the university is required to do under the state’s Open Records Act, the opinion found.
Jay Blanton, a spokesman for UK, said the university responded to Teague’s request last week, and the delay in responding to Teague was because Teague’s request involved thousands of pages of documents. UK will not appeal the attorney general’s decision.
“As the university has now responded and the response apparently is satisfactory to Mr. Teague, we see no reason to appeal the decision in this matter,” Blanton said. “The length of time it took to respond was entirely dependent upon the broad nature of the request, which required the university to review nearly 4,000 documents, much of which involved private student records.”
Teague, a third-year UK law school student who also writes for a legal blog about open government, confirmed that he received the documents Monday. Teague said he was surprised UK failed to cite the necessary state statutes when it continued to delay responding to his request.
On Oct. 17, Teague requested emails and other records from the dean of the College of Law and other admissions staff that mentioned the college’s acceptance list and other admission criteria for first-year college students. Teague had asked for the emails because of the large number of first-year law students, according to the decision released Monday by Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office.
UK first told Teague in an email dated Oct. 20 that a snafu with the law school’s network servers meant it couldn’t give Teague an update on the status of his request. In an email Oct. 24, the university said the College of Law was going through documents that were part of Teague’s request and it was not known when his request would be available for review. On Oct. 31, the university told Teague again via email that law school officials would have the documents to the university’s open records officials by Thursday of that week. That email did not state when the records would be available.
Teague appealed to the attorney general’s office, which oversees Open Records Act disputes. In documents filed with the attorney general’s office, UK’s attorneys argued that Teague’s appeal was premature and that the university was working to respond to his request. The broad nature of Teague’s request coupled with the university’s duty by law not to release student information created the delay, the university argued.
But in its opinion, the attorney general’s office said the law states that UK was supposed to issue a written response within three days. UK also did not cite a specific exemption in the state’s Open Records Act that allows governments and public universities to say that the response would be delayed. That exemption requires public groups to give a detailed explanation for the cause of the delay and to give a specific date when the records would become available.