Wisconsin court orders release of investigatory records

Records of alleged sexual misconduct by principal requested over three years ago

WISCONSIN - After what seemed like an eternity, the Wisconsin State Journal's Phil Brinkman finally received the public records he had requested more than two years ago.

"The sad part is that it has dragged on for so long," Brinkman said.

On April 30, the state court of appeals handed Brinkman, a State Journal reporter, the right to see a confidential report that investigated former Madison School District principal Stephen Kailin.

Kailin had been accused of sexually molesting young girls while he was a teacher. The newspaper had filed a state freedom of information act request in 1996. The school district was ready to comply, deciding that the public concern outweighed the privacy interests of Kailin, who thought that his records should remain closed since he had resigned.

But in Kailin v. Rainwater, 1999 WL 173628 (Wis. Ct. App. Apr. 30, 1999), the court disagreed with the former principal. After Kailin chose not to appeal, the records were immediately released.

The school district had placed Kailin on leave in September 1996 while it investigated him for "inappropriate conduct" with two school girls, according to a May 1 article by Brinkman. This initial investigation, however, revealed little evidence. But when Kailin was about to return as principal, five women came forward, saying that they had been molested by Kailin when they were students at the school, according to the article.

To avoid proceedings that could have led to his termination, Kailin resigned in late 1996.

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