FAYETTE, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Howard County judge sided with a school district in a lawsuit over open records.
Judge Scott Hayes ruled that Howard County coroner Frank Flaspohler made a purposeful violation of the state's open records law when he denied the Glasgow School District a transcript of a coroner's inquest in 2017. Hayes ordered the coroner to pay the district $500 as a fine and $73,259.50 in attorneys fees.
The two public agencies have fought over the records since the January 2017 inquest into Kenneth Suttner's suicide the month prior. The jury said they felt the Glasgow School District was negligent in handling bullying Suttner went through at the school, and also recommended criminal charges be brought against his work manager, Harley Branham. The school district sued the coroner shortly afterwards after Flaspohler and special prosecutor April Wilson closed the transcript, saying they were "investigative reports."
Hayes said Flaspohler's explanation of why he closed the records changed from 2017 to the trial in January. Flaspohler first said the transcript was part of the criminal investigation, but then testified in January that the coroner's office was a law enforcement agency that could close the records. That, he said, made Flaspohler's closing of the records a purposeful violation.