State attorney: Insurer's settlement payments in Ooltewah High School sexual assault cases 'likely subject' to open records law

The exterior of Ooltewah High School photographed on Sunday, January 31, 2016. (Staff photo by Maura Friedman)

NASHVILLE - Out-of-court monetary settlements made by Hamilton County Schools' insurer in the 2015 Ooltewah High sexual assault cases are "most likely" required to be disclosed to the public under Tennessee's open government laws, a state attorney says.

Prompted by complaints from Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, Open Records Counsel Lee Pope told top Tennessee Risk Management Trust officials by letter last week they are "most likely" a governmental entity or "functional equivalent of a governmental entity."

And because the insurance trust was created by governmental entities through an "interlocal" agreement - a collaborative contract among public bodies aiming to provide public services - and gets funding from local governments for performing them, the insurer is "most likely subject to the requirements" of the Tennessee Public Records Act, Pope wrote to trust officials.