The Richmond Register

October 31, 2012

Hoskins seeks to block release of her records

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — Debra Hoskins, former executive director of the EKU Center for the Arts, is seeking to block the university’s release of her personnel records, according to Judy Spain, legal counsel for Eastern Kentucky University.

Hoskins’ move will delay the release by at least a day, Spain stated in a Tuesday evening email to the Richmond Register.

On Monday, after Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway ruled the university’s denial of media requests for Hoskins’ records violated the state’s open-records law, Spain said she expected to release the records around midday today.

Conway’s ruling noted that “aggrieved parties” had the right to appeal his ruling to circuit court, but Eastern said it would not appeal the decision.

However, the university learned Tuesday that Hoskins had retained counsel and would seek to prevent Eastern from disclosing the records, Spain said.

Unless Hoskins obtains a court order to prevent the release, the university now expects to release 625 pages of documents related to Hoskins’ 18-month tenure as the center’s director.

Spain’s message said Hoskins’ attorney has been informed of the university’s intentions, and EKU would release the documents at the close of business Thursday unless prevented by court order.

The Register and other media had requested Hoskins’ records after the university announced her resignation June 19 and then learned from minutes of the center’s community operations board that university officials had notified Hoskins June 12 that she was being dismissed and to vacate her office.

The center’s community operations board voted 8-3 during a June 14 meeting to challenge the university’s action. But, Hoskins’ resignation was announced four working days later.

However, both the Register and other media sought to learn the details behind Hoskins’ departure to clarify the conflicting information surrounding it.

The attorney general’s ruling came in response to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s appeal of the university’s denial, which EKU based on statues protecting personnel records and a confidentiality agreement it had reached with Hoskins.

Internal audits, as well as Hoskins’ termination letter and confidentiality agreement were among the items the university had refused to produce.

The attorney general cited several court cases to explain why the university could not withhold the requested records or abide by its non-disclosure agreement with Hoskins.

“The disputed records ‘are directly related’ to Ms. Hoskins’ departure from EKU and ‘it is likely that the public interest in the details of the operation of a public agency could be advanced by the disclosure’ of those records,” according to the ruling. “As the matter currently stands, ‘there is an issue of transparency’ regarding Ms. Hoskins’ departure that can only be resolved by disclosure of internal audits of the center she directed and personnel records relating to her performance as director.”

The statutes, which the university cited in its denial of the records request, do not authorize nondisclosure of the records, according to the

attorney general’s ruling, and it called EKU’s reliance on its confidentiality agreement with Hoskins misplaced.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 624-6690.