KSU, WKU announce appeal against Kernel

Kat Manouchehri

Kentucky State University and Western Kentucky University announced they will appeal the Attorney General’s decision in favor of The Kentucky Kernel’s request for sexual misconduct investigative reports. 

The Kernel requested the last five years of all employee sexual misconduct investigative reports from Kentucky public universities. KSU and WKU refused to release the reports.

The Kernel’s attorney Tom Miller said he strongly believes all public universities in Kentucky have an obligation to fully respond to open records requests, and any private student information can be redacted from those requests.

“The presence of personally identifiable information about a student does not shield an entire document, much less an entire investigative file, from disclosure,” Miller said.  

The editor-in-chief of the College Heights Herald, WKU’s student newspaper, Shay Harney thinks the decision could set future precedent for other publications.

The only reason WKU decided to proceed with the lawsuit was because of Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark’s decision in the Kernel’s case against UK, according to Harney.

The Kernel plans to appeal Judge Clark’s decision, though it will not bind other circuit court judges’ decisions in these similar cases, according to Miller.

Both of the cases are centered around Title IX investigations, but Harney said she thinks the cases are different because the Kernel is experiencing much more backlash from the university than WKU is. 

“We have always had a great relationship with our administration,” Harney said. “I don’t think they are doing this (the lawsuit) to confront us or be vindictive in any way. They felt like this was the only avenue they could go through to protect these records.”