The Ohio Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear oral arguments in the lawsuit brought by the Dayton Daily News and other media organizations seeking school records on the Oregon District shooter from Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools.
This means the state’s high court will allow attorneys for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and media outlets to argue that the school district erred in denying access to student records for Connor Betts citing state and federal student privacy laws.
Betts, 24, opened fire in the Oregon District on Aug. 4, killing nine people and wounding dozens of others before he was shot and killed by Dayton police.
An investigation by the Dayton Daily News found Betts’ childhood was peppered with red flags, including an incident in high school where he was suspended after writing a list of people he said he wanted to kill.
The Dayton Daily News and other media outlets filed public records requests with the school district seeking Betts’ discipline, attendance and other education records to inform the public about how that incident was handled and whether more could have been done to prevent the mass shooting.
Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools refused to release the records arguing that doing so would violate state and federal student privacy laws. The district’s decision was upheld by the Second District Court of Appeals in Greene County.
But attorneys for the media appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court arguing that those privacy laws don’t apply to adult former students who are deceased. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined the suit in support of the media in December.
Erin Rhinehart, attorney for the media outlets, said the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday is “important in the sense that we now get the opportunity to hear what the judges’ questions are, answer the judges’ questions and explain why the lower court’s judgment should be reversed and why these records should be released.”
Attorneys for the media outlets will share oral argument time with attorneys from Yost’s office.
The Ohio Supreme Court has not scheduled a date for the hearing yet.
A message was left seeking comment from the attorneys for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools. This story will be updated with their response.
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