A student journalist’s bid to force a private university to open its police records to public scrutiny was referred to mediation today by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Anna Schiffbauer, news editor of Otterbein360.com, a student-run news website, filed a mandamus action last week asking the justices to force Otterbein University to comply with public records laws.
The action filed says that the police department of the Westerville college is a public office performing a governmental function and is required to make records available under Ohio’s public-records laws.
Student journalists at the liberal-arts college have battled Otterbein over its refusal to release records since the campus security force became a full-fledged police department of state-certified officers in 2011. The college argues it is a private institution and exempt from public records laws.
The court frequently refers public records disputes to mediation.
Ohio lawmakers also introduced a bill to make the state’s private police forces, largely at private universities and hospitals, turn over arrest and incident reports .