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Georgia Private Colleges Subject to Open Records Law

ATLANTA – Georgia’s House of Representatives has passed legislation granting public access to campus police records at private universities.

Advocates for the bill are confident that Gov. Sonny Perdue will sign it, making Georgia only the second state in the nation to have an open records law applicable to private colleges. Virginia enacted a similar law in 1994, and Massachusetts is considering passage of its own version.

Like their public law enforcement counterparts who are subject to the state’s Open Records Act, police at private schools in Georgia would now be required to release initial incident reports and arrest records.

The passage of the bill comes on the heels of a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling last year that allowed Mercer University, a private institution, to deny access to their crime records by attorneys for a victim of sexual assault. The court ruled that private universities were not public agencies under that open-records law.

The law, which requires public access to private university police records, passed by an overwhelming majority (135-12). It is scheduled to take effect July 1.

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