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Police Test Scores Disclosure Ordered Under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law

Pennsylvania newspaper The Times Leader (TTL), a division of Cypress Media, Inc., appealed the dismissal of its action to compel the production of records regarding the test results of police candidates on the list for the City of Hazelton's (Hazelton) Civil Service Commission. The dismissal was reversed on appeal.

TTL requested information from Hazelton in 2005 regarding the candidates' names, ranks and test scores, plus their effective dates. Hazelton produced all but the test scores, claiming nondisclosure under Article XIV ' 1403 of the Civil Service Commission Rules and Regulations (regulations). TTL again requested the test scores arguing that they were public record under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Act (Act).

Hazelton sent the test scores but did not disclose which score applied to which candidate. TTL filed suit and Hazelton objected, arguing that providing individual test score information would prejudice or impair reputations or personal security in future employment and possible promotion in current employment. Hazelton also claimed that all examination materials were exempt under the regulation, and requested the court to deny TTL's attorneys' fees and costs because they did not provide acceptable information. The court ruled that TTL had failed to meet the burden that proved public interest outweighed the Act's intent, and dismissed the action. TTL appealed.

The Second Division Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that the regulations only stated that "examination materials" shall be confidential, and that the test scores and rankings were not examination materials but were the result of the process. The dismissal was reversed. See: The Times Leader v. Hazelton Police Civil Service Commission, 909 A.2d 434 (Pa. Commw. 2006).

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Related legal case

The Times Leader v. Hazelton Police Civil Service Commission