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July 2, 2013

New motions filed in university suit

NORMAN — New motions were filed last week in a case involving a lawsuit filed against the University of Oklahoma in May, according to plaintiff Joey Stipek.

Stipek, OU film and media studies senior and former online editor of The Oklahoma Daily, filed the lawsuit after the university repeatedly refused to release student parking citation information to him and other employees of the student newspaper.

Stipek said new motions filed Friday included a response to the defendants’ motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. In the response, Stipek requested the court to deny the defendants’ motion to dismiss, which was filed June 3, court records show.

The lawsuit was filed specifically against David Boren, president of OU, and Rachel McCombs, director of the Open Records Office at OU.

The response states that in recent years, reporters at other student newspapers have requested campus parking citations under their state’s Open Records laws after receiving tips that student athletes were receiving special treatment. Stipek was attempting to write a similar story when he was denied access to the records.

Stipek was told they were protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the document states.

OU officials have previously stated that since student parking citations are protected by FERPA, they are exempt from disclosure under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Since the records are directly related to a student and maintained by the university, they can’t be disclosed under FERPA. This sets them apart from law enforcement records, which are required to be disclosed to the public, the officials said.

However, OU officials said they have provided and will continue to provide information related to any non-student ticket recipient, including faculty staff or university guests to whom FERPA does not apply.

Officials further stated they have already provided parking ticket information about Boren and other university officials. Also, the ticketing system is an administrative function, not a criminal one, the university said.

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