MORGANTOWN -- A newspaper publishing company is suing the Monongalia County Board of Education for access to a video.

The West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Company, specifically its The
Dominion Post, is seeking a writ of mandamus under the Freedom of
Information Act against the school board.

In the suit filed on Feb. 6, the WV Newspaper Publishing Co. claims it filed for a school bus recording, from April 12, 2005, under the Freedom of Information Act on Jan. 16, 2006. But Board President Nancy Walker denied the request on Jan. 20, 2006.

Though Walker is not named as a defendant in this case, her name is mentioned more than once in the suit.

Walker denied the request under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, but WV Newspaper Publishing Co. believes that the school bus is not an educational setting, and therefore, that it should be allowed access to view the recording.

The Dominion Post repeatedly pursued the recording, citing the Freedom of Information Act, but the board has been adamant in its denial.

What was recorded on the April 12, 2005 bus ride was not stated in the suit. However, the suit did mention a possible altercation between students and/or the bus driver, a story which The Dominion Post hopes to cover.

Filed by Mark A. Sadd, of Lewis, Glasser, Casey, and Rollins PLLC, the suit states that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is meant to protect student records, not to protect the ride to and from an educational facility.

The WV Newspaper Publishing Co. hopes the judge will grant the writ of mandamus, which would allow it immediate access to the recording, whether just a single viewing or a copy of the recording. It is also seeking damages for attorney's fees and court costs.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 06-C-82

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