The Freedom of Information Act Commission of the State of Connecticut ruled that schools cannot withhold staff misconduct reports because of FERPA in mid-February.
The University of Connecticut said this will not change their established practices, according to university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
“UConn routinely releases reports describing employee misconduct under FOI, and doesn’t expect that to change,” Reitz said. “To comply with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), UConn redacts personally identifying information about students any is contained in those reports, as do other educational institutions.”
The ruling is seen as a huge win for Connecticut journalists, specifically student-journalists, according to Sommer Ingram Dean, a staff attorney at the Student Press Law Center, according to an article in the SPLC by Cameren Boatner.
“I think the decision is great in that it reinforces that FERPA isn’t meant to cover up facts that the public has a right to know. I think it’s a great step in the right direction,” Dean said. “I hope other states will look to this decision and see the correct way to apply FERPA.”
FERPA is a law meant to protect the right to privacy of students, which transfers from high school to college should the student move on. It applies to all schools receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Freedom of Information Act permits any person to request public documents from government bodies.
The complaint to the Connecticut FOIC was filed by New Haven Register reporter Christopher Peak this past November. Peak requested documents relating to an incident involving a student and faculty member at Achieve First Amistad High School in New Haven. The student was pushed into a corner by the faculty, but when Peak requested the documents, the school’s principal refused to provide them, citing FERPA.
Thumbnail Photo via bostonpublicschools.org
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