By: The Associated Press
(AP) A Laramie County District judge has issued a 10-day restraining order against a Wyoming newspaper to prevent it from publishing a report thought to be critical of a community college president.
Judge Peter Arnold imposed the order May 21 at the request of Laramie County Community College officials who argue that publishing the report could violate federal student privacy laws.
The report is about a school-sponsored trip to Costa Rica in 2008 and the performance of LCCC President Darrel Hammon, who was a chaperone, according to testimony at a recent public hearing.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle found out about the report during at a recent employee hearing and asked the college for a copy. The college refused and the newspaper later obtained the report from an anonymous source.
Tribune Eagle attorney Bruce Moats says what is happening is a form of censorship and could be unconstitutional. The college argued in its court filing asking for a restraining order that if the story ran, it would be a violation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which could lead to the college “losing millions of dollars in federal funding.”
The newspaper legally obtained the report and it shouldn’t be barred from publishing what’s in it, Moats said.
A court hearing on the matter is expected this week. LCCC attorney Lance Harmon said the judge could then decide if any of the report could be published. Moats has suggested that the report could be disclosed without identifying students to abate privacy concerns.