A case for the future

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By The Staff

For those who might have missed it, Monday's issue of the News-Journal included a story about the Kentucky Supreme Court's ruling on two lawsuits - one filed in 2003 and the other in 2004.

The lawsuits, filed by Taylor County resident Katherine Moss against both Campbellsville Independent and Taylor County school systems, were settled and dismissed in 2007 - but the terms of the settlement were kept secret.

And that's against the law.

That's why the News-Journal filed its own court papers - in an attempt to inform the public how its money was spent. And it took three long years to see that attempt successful.

While many may believe that cases such as this should be "private," the law says they are not.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, we're waiting to get that information from the school districts. But the state's highest court has now said they have to make that information public.

Now that the school boards have been ordered to do what they should have done all those years ago, one can't help but wonder just how much money has been wasted in the past three years.

Hiring attorneys to argue a case for three years isn't cheap. Believe us, we know.

But this case has far-reaching results, and that's why the Kentucky Press Association helped us pay our lawyers' fees.

And we're also going to find out how much taxpayer money was wasted in their attempt to keep public information private.

An open records request was sent last Friday asking the school boards for the settlement information. A second request was sent on Tuesday morning asking for the total amount of legal fees incurred while they were fighting to keep their secret.

We can't help but wonder why they fought so hard to keep information about how they're spending our tax dollars a secret. Did they just hope that we wouldn't spend the money ourselves to pursue the answer? Does that mean that John Q. Public isn't entitled to know?

It's too bad those who were in the wrong about withholding the information didn't have to pay all those legal fees out of their own pockets rather than taxpayers' pockets. Maybe they'd think twice about doing that again.

The whole situation is an embarrassment ... to the local court system, school boards and the people involved.

Hopefully they've learned what most of us spend years teaching our children ... it's always better to tell the truth up front than to try to hide what has happened.