By Bill Robinson
Acting on behalf of Debra Hoskins, former executive director of EKU’s Center for the Arts, the university has decided to appeal the Oct. 26 attorney general’s ruling that ordered it to release Hoskins’ personnel records.
EKU spokesperson Marc Whitt announced the decision in an email message to central Kentucky media at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.
The announcement reversed earlier EKU statements that the university would not appeal the decision.
First, the university said it would comply with the ruling and release 625 pages of records around midday Wednesday. Then on Tuesday, after learning that Hoskins had retained counsel and would appeal the attorney general’s ruling, the university said it would release the records at the end of business on Thursday unless prevented by court order.
However, Hoskins was ineligible to appeal the ruling as the open-records law allows only parties to the attorney general’s ruling – the university and the Lexington Herald-Leader – to appeal the decision to circuit court.
Although EKU had planned to comply with the ruling, at the urging of Hoskins’ attorney and after giving the issue further review, the university decided to appeal to circuit court on her behalf, according to the statement. To further ensure that Hoskins may advocate her interests, EKU will ask the court to make her a party to the action, it added.
EKU’s initial intention was to comply with the attorney general’s opinion by releasing the requested records,” Whitt said. “However, upon further review and at the urging of Ms. Hoskins’ attorney, the university will be appealing the attorney General’s ruling. Further, to ensure Ms. Hoskins can directly advocate her interests in this matter, the University will also ask the Court for a declaration of rights and make Ms. Hoskins a party to the legal action.”
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 open-records law would not allow the university to 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,” the ruling stated. “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 Richmond 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 on June 12 that she was being dismissed.
The center’s community operations board voted 8-3 on June 14 to challenge the university’s action, but Hoskins’ resignation was announced four working days later.
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6690.