UI officials decline to reveal reason for withholding records

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa officials won't say what they withheld from a recent public-records request, a move not covered by the state's open records law.

The university recently filled a Daily Iowan request for more than 1,000 emails to and from UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin. Officials say some documents were withheld to protect educational and personnel information; however, they won't say which documents were withheld or even how many. Mary Kenyon, a public-releations specialist for the University News Service, didn't cite any statute or court ruling in support of withholding the number of withheld documents.

A representative at the Iowa Ombudsman's Office said state code doesn't directly address whether public entities can keep information about withheld documents private. However, the attorney general advises public-records custodians to explain why records are withheld.

"Openness is the rule, and confidentiality is the exception,"Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller wrote in a bulletin. "Public officials and employees may keep records confidential only if authorized by law. If access is refused, people may ask for an explanation, and officials would be well-advised to explain the legal authority that makes a public record confidential."

— by Adam B Sullivan

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