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Decision in Favor of School District Against a Requester of Records

Ryan LaFlamme, Ennis Britton Co., L.P.A. |

A Special Master of the Court of Claims of Ohio has issued a decision in favor of a school district against a requester of records. 

The requester was a former employee who was terminated after a discipline investigation.  As part of the investigation, the school district’s attorneys collected text messages from two students who were a part of the investigation.  The attorneys reviewed the collected text messages and stored them but did not use all of them as part of the investigation because they had no investigative value.

The requester asked for “All communications (including ALL text message transcripts) collected by Douglas Duckett and/or any employee or representative of the River Valley Local School District from [two students] during the investigation that lead to the termination of Mark Bollinger’s contract and the issues reported to the Ohio Department of Education.”

The Court ruled that while the School Board did possess the additional text messages withheld from the requester, and while the investigators acting on behalf of the School Board reviewed the additional text messages, they were not ultimately used to draw any conclusions or take any actions about the matter and therefore were not records subject to disclosure.  “Even where a document is received, reviewed, and integrated into a topical office file, but is not used to document the office’s activities, it may not rise to the definition of a “record.”

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