The Ninth District Court of Appeals for Ohio sided today with a school district today in a public records dispute.
The case, State ex rel. Johnson v. Oberlin City School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2009-Ohio-3526, stems from a denial of a public records request to the Oberlin School District Board of Education. The bylaws and policies of the Oberlin City School District provide that each year, the school board must evaluate the Superintendent and provide teh Superintendent with a written copy of the evaluation. The board then relies upon the evaluation in determining whether or not to renew the Superintendent's contract.
This process requires individual board members to evaluate the Superintendent and then give their results on the Board President, who uses the evaluations to compile the Superintendent’s composite evaluation. In her public records request, Johnson requested the evaluations submitted by the individual members of the Board. Johnson’s request was denied on the basis that individual evaluations are not public records as defined by R.C. 149.43.
The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, finding that only the final evaluation is a public record under R.C. 149.43.