Universities cite UK v. Kernel in open records denials



Matt Smith

The Kernel requested documents pertaining to sexual misconduct investigations of the past five years at Kentucky universities, and the responses so far have returned limited information about incidents. 

UK gave no comment about the decisions of some universities to hand over documents in redacted form that UK has argued during litigation are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said UK is in the process of collecting some documents to send to the Kernel in response to the request, but did not say if these would include investigative reports in any form. 

The case between UK and the Kernel has been cited by other universities in multiple denials of documents and information, but some universities have released information about the numbers of investigations conducted. 

Western Kentucky University and Kentucky State University denied all records in a fashion similar to UK.

Both Northern Kentucky University and Morehead State University supplied some documents related to cases already resolved, including emails sent to the accused at the end of investigations, but refused to provide documents they deemed to be “preliminary.” 

The denials from WKU and KSU are pending appeal to the Attorney General, and the Kernel plans to appeal the denial of preliminary records from Morehead State and NKU.

WKU and KSU have acknowledged and responded to the appeal. WKU asked for a hold, known as an abeyance, on the appeal, pending a resolution to current litigation between UK and the Kernel. 

WKU said the university conducted 20 investigations with employees during the past five years, and found six responsible for policy violations. 

According to the school, all six employees found in violation of school policy resigned or retired before any corrective action was taken.

The Kernel is currently waiting on 136 pages worth of records from the University of Louisville, which are expected to come later this week. 

In NKU’s case, the school released documents relating to multiple sexual misconduct investigations, including that of Dennis Miller, a former philosophy professor.

Miller is no longer employed by the school, as his contract was not renewed this past summer.

This is not the first time that Miller has faced complaints of sexual misconduct. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that he was investigated by the university for sexual harassment in 2007 as well. 

According to documents supplied to the Kernel by NKU, Miller received administrative warnings for his actions, which allegedly involved text messages, hugs, and a kiss on the cheek of a student.