|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Bakersfield Californian 9-30-04
High court to keep Brothers case decision on books
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request by the California School Boards Association to de-publish a decision that made public agency employees' disciplinary records open for review.
In June, the association asked the state Supreme Court to de-publish the decision in a case won by The Bakersfield Californian, meaning it could not be used as the law when others request access to similar records throughout the state.
The high court refused to consider that request Wednesday and the case is now concluded.
The Californian sued the Bakersfield City School District July 24, 2003, after the district denied access to a disciplinary record of Vincent Brothers, a former vice principal of Fremont School. Nine months later, Brothers was charged with the July 2003 killings of five of his family members.
The paper asked for the records after a Californian reporter received a tip that Brothers, already a named suspect in the slayings, had a history of complaints of sexual misconduct at school.
In September 2003, Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Twisselman ordered the documents released, with the names of the alleged victim and witnesses blacked out. The district appealed.
In May, the 5th District Court of Appeal upheld Twisselman's decision to release the records. The 1996 complaint alleged Brothers committed serious acts of violence and sexual misconduct against a school employee.
Attorneys for the association did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
Thomas Burke, attorney for The Californian, said the decision strengthened a 30-year-old precedent on access to these types of records.
"The decision will have a positive effect throughout the state to allow the press and public to access complaints that have previously been kept secret on a daily basis," he said.
Burke expected that many will use the case to gain access, giving the example of a parent who might want to know serious allegations against a principal and how it was dealt with.
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