June 1, 1994
IN RE: A.C. Wilson, Jr./Metcalfe County Board of Education
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This appeal originated in a request for public records submitted by Mr. A.C. Wilson, Jr., publisher of Cave Country Newspapers, Inc., to the Metcalfe County Board of Education. On May 11, 1994, Mr. Wilson requested access to the summarized evaluation results of Dr. Charles H. Roberts, Superintendent of the Metcalfe County School System, and "all 'comments' made by individual school board members concerning their 'evaluation' of Dr. Roberts . . . ."
On behalf of the Metcalfe County Board of Education, Mr. Terry L. Jeffries, Chairman, responded to Mr. Wilson's request on May 16, 1994. Relying on KRS 61.878(1)(a), Mr. Jeffries denied the request, arguing that "release of the materials sought would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." He acknowledged that the Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled that a school superintendent's evaluation must be disclosed, affirming a decision of the Attorney General, but noted that a motion for discretionary review has been filed in this matter, and is currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court. Courier-Journal and Louisville Times Co. v. Board of Education of Bullitt County, 93-CA-0896-MR (April 1, 1994) motion for discretionary review filed April 21, 1994 (94-SC-325). It is therefore his position that there is no "final decision of any Kentucky appellate court which holds that the evaluation . . ." is subject to disclosure.
We are asked to determine if the Metcalfe County Board of Education properly relied on KRS 61.878(1)(a) in denying Mr. Wilson's request. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the Board improperly denied his request.
In 92-ORD-1145, this Office engaged in a lengthy analysis of the issue raised in this open records appeal. There we held that the public's interest in disclosure of a school superintendent's evaluation is superior to the superintendent's privacy interests. At page 4 of that decision, we observed:
Because the Superintendent is ultimately responsible for the management of the school system, his performance is of far greater interest to the public, and his expectation of privacy in the evaluation of that performance is correspondingly reduced.
We expressly declined to extend this reasoning to the evaluations of other employees of the school system, recognizing the potential for discord in the workplace which might be engendered by their release. In April, 1994, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld this position in a nonfinal opinion reversing the Bullitt Circuit Court. As noted, that opinion is the subject of a motion for discretionary review currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Because KRS 61.880(2) places time constraints on the Attorney General in issuing a decision under the Open Records Law, we cannot indefinitely postpone resolution of an appeal pending action by the Kentucky Supreme Court. We will continue to abide by our decision in 92-ORD-1145 unless and until that decision is reversed in a final, unappealable judgment. Based on the reasoning articulated in that decision, we conclude that the Metcalfe County Board of Education improperly denied Mr. Wilson's request.
The Metcalfe County Board of Education may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be
named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.
AMYE B. MAJORS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Mr. Terry Jeffries, Chairman of the Board
Metcalfe County School Board
Metcalfe County Schools Central Office
West Stockton Street
Edmonton, KY 42129
Mr. A.C. Wilson, Jr., Publisher
Cave County Newspapers, Inc.
135 East Main
Glasgow, KY 42141
Jim C. Coleman, Attorney
Metcalfe County Board of Education
Edmonton, KY 42129