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Legislature should make Penn State comply with freedom of information law, AG says

By   /   July 26, 2012  /   3 Comments

By Jared Sichel | PA Independent

Penn State's "Old Main" administrative building. If the PA legislature follows Auditor General Jack Wagner's wishes, the embattled university will have to make public most of its internal documents.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s top auditor has a message for Penn State — things must change.

Thursday, Auditor General Jack Wagner called on the Legislature to order the troubled university to comply with the state’s Right-to-Know law.

“I would hope that this would be a priority in September, and the General Assembly could deal with it prior to the end of the legislative session in November,” Wagner said.

The transparency law, which makes public most internal documents at government agencies, now applies to Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities.

But Penn State is an independently managed, “state-related” school, and thus exempt from giving the public access to internal documents, such as emails between top officials, even though it will get $228 million in taxpayer money this fiscal year.

An investigation led by former FBI head Louis Freeh into how the school handled the situation involving Jerry Sandusky — convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse — found evidence of an attempted coverup by top university officials.

The report presented as evidence internal emails between some of Penn State’s highest-ranking figures.

“There was not the kind of flow of information that should have occurred within Penn State University for a very long time,” Wagner said.

“Penn State lost its whole thought process about being a public university.”

Wagner called for the law to apply to Pennsylvania’s other three state-related schools — Temple, Lincoln, and Pitt.