Whether a letter sent from a Yelm physician to Thurston County regarding JZ Knight and the Ramtha School of Enlightenment can be released as a public document is still up for debate.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Erick Price said the briefing by JZK, Inc.’s lawyers was insufficient to make a final decision on the matter.
He said he isn’t sure the court agrees the document is exempt. Washington’s Public Records Act is one of the strongest in the country, he said, and when a document is filed with the government, it’s usually considered a public document.
He said he was issuing an order preventing disclosure of the document until he could make a final judgment on whether a permanent injunction should be ordered.
JZK, Inc. sued the county, seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the release of a letter to the county from a Yelm physician.
The letter was sent by Dr. Brian Keay to Dr. Diana Yu, the health officer for the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department, regarding practices at JZ Knight’s Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm. Keay, according to lawyers for JZK, Inc., was Knight’s physician at one time.
JZK, Inc. was notified by the county in an Oct. 1 letter that the county’s Board of Commissioners received a public records request for correspondence between the board and any employee of JZK, Inc. or the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, Jeffrey Grant, a lawyer for JZK, Inc., stated in court documents. The company later learned the request was made by former RSE student Virginia Coverdale.
“Once you’re somebody’s physician … you can’t share information about them with third parties without their permission,” Grant said.
The county argued the letter isn’t exempted. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Donald Peters states in court documents the letter “addresses concerns for students of the RSE.’”
“Any reference to the person of JZ Knight is in conjunction with the concerns about the students of RSE,” he states. “This memorandum appears to be anecdotal opinions of a local doctor. Unless it is established by the Plaintiff that Dr. Keay is the physician treating JZ Knight, and/or that any of the students of the RSE are seeking disclosure as patients of Dr. Keay, the document does not appear to be a ‘medical record’ wherein JZK, Inc. has an expectation of privacy as defined by Federal or State statutes.”