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Cornell must reveal records

Court finds private school running state research is subject to freedom of information law.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

A New York court has ordered Cornell University to hand over safety protocols and financial records related to its multi-million dollar biotechnology research operation. The ruling, issued November 7, stemmed from a journalist's suit under New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) against the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, one of four colleges Cornell runs for the state.

Handed down at a time when federal agencies are under orders from the White House to delay and defeat requests for information under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the New York ruling is one of a series of cases in which private schools have been ordered to open their books on the basis of state FOI laws.

The state Supreme Court Appellate Division in Albany found that while Cornell is a private institution, it is performing a public function in running the agricultural science school...

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