Governor Gives Penn State an Ultimatum Over Open Records

By: - February 1, 2012 12:00 am

In the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is warning the university that it must comply with the state’s open-records law or risk losing taxpayer money, according to The Patriot-News of Harrisburg .

Penn State and three other “state-related universities” — Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University —  are currently exempt from Pennsylvania open-records requirements because they are not fully public institutions. But Corbett says that must change after the scandal at Penn State, where university leaders are accused of covering up the actions of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who is charged with sexually molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period.

Corbett, who is scheduled to introduce his new state budget next week, “plans to talk to state lawmakers about forcing Penn State to make a decision: Is it a public or a private institution?” The Patriot-News — the newspaper that broke the Sandusky story last April — reports .

The behavior of Penn State officials has been publicly scrutinized since November, when a grand jury released a report charging Sandusky with a series of sexual assaults and two university officials with covering up the alleged crimes. The scandal resulted in the ouster of longtime university president Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno.

Pennsylvania residents have demanded more openness from Penn State in the months since the charges were made public, but it is unclear whether university officials will agree to comply with the open-records law. “We’re certainly committed to serving the public and hopeful that we’ll continue to receive public support,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson has said of Corbett’s ultimatum.

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