November 22, 1996

In re: A. C. Wilson, Jr./Barren County School Board

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the Barren County School Board's denial of the open records request of Mr. A. C. Wilson, Jr., Publisher, Cave County Newspapers, Inc., to inspect the 1995-96 administrative evaluations for each of the Barren County Schools' principals.

Mr. Charles W. Campbell, Superintendent, Barren County Schools, denied Mr. Wilson's request pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(a), stating that the release of the administrative evaluations for each of the Barren County School District principals would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. In support of the denial, Mr. Campbell cited 94-ORD-70.

In his letter of appeal, Mr. Wilson asks this office to determine whether the denial of his request was consistent with the Open Records Act.

On October 25, 1996, we sent the School Board a “Notification of Receipt of Open Records Appeal” and enclosed a copy of Mr. Wilson's letter of appeal. As authorized by KRS 61.880(2) and 40 KAR 1:030, Section 2, Mr. Michael A. Owsley, Esq., on behalf of the Board, provided this office with a response to the issue raised in this appeal. In his response, Mr. Owsley states that 94-ORD-70 and 92-ORD-1145 are controlling as to the issue raised in this appeal. We agree.

Dispositive of this appeal is 94-ORD-70, a copy of which is attached hereto and incorporated by reference. In that decision, this office held that a school superintendent's evaluation and all comments made by individual school board members concerning their evaluation of the superintendent must be produced for inspection. However, we expressly declined to extend this reasoning to the evaluations of other employees of the school system. In 92-ORD-1145, cited in the above decision, we stated:

We do not , in so holding, establish a rule of general application vis-a-vis performance evaluations. Nor do we depart from any opinion previously issued by this office. (Footnote omitted.) 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. The same cannot be said of the other employees of a school system or of any other public agency, since disclosure of their evaluations may spur unhealthy comparisons, breeding discord in the work place, and result in injury and embarrassment to the employee. We continue to ascribe to the view that an employee's right of privacy in his evaluation is superior to the public's interest in inspecting that evaluation. Our decision is limited to the facts presented in this case.

In the instant case, we conclude that 94-ORD-70 and 92-ORD-1145 remain controlling as to the issue before us and decline to extend the holding of these opinions to principals and other employees of the school system.

Accordingly, we conclude the School Board, under authority of KRS 61.878(1)(a), properly denied the release of the administrative evaluations for each of the Barren County School District principals, as such would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. 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 proceeding.

A. B. Chandler III

Attorney General

James M. Ringo

Assistant Attorney General



Distributed to:

A. C. Wilson, Jr.

Cave Country Newspapers, Inc.

P. O. Box 546

Cave City KY 42127

Charles W. Campbell


Barren County Schools

P. O. Box 879

Glasgow KY 42142-0979