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Thursday, April 23, 2009

School District Sued for Releasing (Not Withholding) Records

The Whidbey News-Times in Oak Harbor has this story about a school district releasing public records about an alleged teacher sexual incident. The release of the records appears to have been required by the Public Records Act. Now the teacher is suing the school district for releasing the records.

Someone should tell the teacher's attorney about this little part of the Public Records Act, RCW 42.56.060, which provides:

"No public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon the release of a public record if the public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian acted in good faith in attempting to comply with the provisions of this chapter."

Immunity for releasing records. It's a key part of the Public Records Act. It gives agencies the confidence of knowing that they won't get sued for releasing records--they can only be sued for withholding them. This is a big incentive.

P.S. Thanks to "Kokanee Bill" for this seeing this story and letting us know about it.