NORMAN — “The lawsuit is the last thing we wanted to do. If they said they would give us the records now, we would settle out of court. I’d drop the lawsuit.”
Those were the words of University of Oklahoma student Joey Stipek earlier this week, talking about the lawsuit he filed against the university’s president, David Boren.
Stipek, also the former online editor of The Oklahoma Daily, filed a lawsuit in May after the university refused to release parking citation information for him and other student newspaper employees.
The students were told the information was protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and are exempt from disclosure under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
Stipek said when they were requesting the information during one project, they requested it from several different Oklahoma colleges. Parking tickets for the school president, an athletic coach and a journalism professor were requested at many of the schools.
“They’re all state employees,” he said.
The students made their requests at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Christian University and Oklahoma City Community College.
At OU, Stipek said he received an email saying they would be happy to turn over any parking tickets and gave them a journalism professor’s. Stipek was told Boren and football coach Bob Stoops didn’t have any tickets.
At OSU, he said they only received the information requested for football coach Mike Gundy. At OCU, no information was given to them as they cited FERPA and the Oklahoma Records Act. At UCO, he said they could not turn the records over due to “confidentiality reasons,” not citing FERPA or the Open Records Act.
All parking citation information was made available at OCCC. Stipek said the community college told him those records are not FERPA records and as long as he had media credentials, he could go in and inspect the parking citations.