The media argued Betts’ right to privacy died with him.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a brief in support of the news organizations’ argument.
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Judges Jeffrey Wellbaum, Mary Donovan and Michael Tucker in the Ohio Second Appellate District Court denied that request, saying the school district proved the records are not public under existing law.
There is no precedent for releasing student records after a death, the decision says.
“The news agencies have not shown that the school has a clear and legal duty to release Betts’ school records,” the decision issued Oct. 2 says.
In a written statement, school district Superintendent Douglas Cozad said, “We respect the law and the decision made by our courts, which made it clear that Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools should not release the records of a former student, Connor Betts.
“We have and will continue to take the safety of our students very seriously. And as a public school district, our responsibility first and foremost is to our students and their families, who should have confidence in us to protect all students and know that we will not turn over their confidential records without a court order or other clear legal authority requiring us to do so.”
A next step for the news organizations could be appealing to the Supreme Court of Ohio, said Erin Rhinehart, attorney for the media.
“We’re evaluating all of our options,” she said.
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