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Penn State Exception to Open Records Law

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Lugnuts, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    If Spanier hadn't successfully lobbied to keep Penn State's exception to the Pennsylvania Open Records Law, the abuse *might* have been caught earlier.

    How is an exception like this even legal?

    From CNN:

    While every other commonwealth agency is subject to Pennsylvania's open records law, Penn State is exempt, making it difficult to get information about who knew what and when regarding the sex abuse claims.

    Penn State, along with three other schools that receive state funds, don't fall under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law, according to Terry Mutchler, the executive director of the state's Office of Open Records.

    "If this were an investigation involving another university ... that did have a scandal at its doorstep, they were subject to the Right to Know Law," Mutchler told CNN.

    "You were able to obtain, in that situation, e-mails, copies of incident reports at the police department, any kind of policies that came out with the Board of Trustees. That would all be available," she said. "At Penn State, however, that's off limits."

    In 2007, state lawmakers considered a change that would have included the school under the open records law. But Spanier testified against the move before the House State Government Committee.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Lincoln, Pittsburgh, and Temple also fall in the state-related category.
  3. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Well that's shitty, too.
  4. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    What is the justification for this exemption?
  5. robertobajo

    robertobajo New Member

    Strange because other state schools: East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, etc., are not covered.

    So the state legislature is part of the coverup. Can it get much worse?
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    There are a few public universities that get past the open records law by having the athletic department open a private company (paid for by boosters) and they channel their communication that way.

    When I covered one such school, I would get pissed that I would get next to nothing back when I would make a FOIA request. They would give me contracts and the obvious stuff, but if you asked for any communication between the AD and one of the coaches, there would be nothing other than garbage email. Then one of the SIDs told me how they do it, that they have an official email that nobody uses and then another one that is protected from FOIA stuff.

    I found out over the years that while not common, it's not totally uncommon these days.
  7. JJHHI

    JJHHI Member

    Jesus. Pennsylvania needs to take a long look at its sunshine laws, because that's nuts.
  8. if you remember even contracts at PSU were a problem. One paper - the Post-Gazette maybe? - had to go to court to get access to Paterno's contract a few years ago.

    Pa. open records laws are arcane.
    as you said a lot of colleges pull this same kind of shit. It's not just localized to PSU or Pa.
    WVU officials tried the same shit with the Bresch degree scandal was breaking.
  9. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    When governments do "business" they do not like it scrutinized.

    I once tried to get the naming rights contracts for various stadiums and arenas around the country. In some case it was easy. In most, it was not. Some forked 'em over if you were persistent. Others would not.

    They set up Authorities to own the arenas and stadiums, and try to exempt them. It's crap.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    The school I used to cover would give me contracts without any problem. Everything else was nearly impossible to get.

    When the SID told me about how everything there was done, I was like "Jesus Christ, what are they hiding?"

    It was smart, but it was sneaky as shit.
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