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U. of Missouri’s Victory Stands in Fight to Withhold Teacher-Prep Syllabi

The Missouri Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling allowing the University of Missouri system to withhold course syllabi from the National Council on Teacher Quality, the Columbia Daily Tribune reports. In August the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District ruled that the syllabi were the intellectual property of the faculty and therefore exempt from the state’s open-records law.

The council’s request for the syllabi is part of an effort to rank teacher-preparation programs by obtaining materials from institutions nationwide. It has released two rankings, beginning last year and continuing this year.

Government-transparency advocates have criticized the appellate decision. “The ruling from the court of appeals opens the door to any public body that has in its custody a copyrighted document of any kind to decide it will not make that public because it’s copyrighted,” Jean Maneke, a lawyer for the Missouri Press Association, told the Daily Tribune.

The council’s president, Kate Walsh, told the newspaper that her organization would still have access to the syllabi, but staff members would have to travel to each campus to view them in person.

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