Attorney general says tape of play is ‘educational record’
TEXAS–The state attorney general concluded in late April that a videotape of an open school board meeting, which included footage of a group of identifiable students performing a dramatic presentation, was an “educational record” exempt from public disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The attorney general’s opinion found that because “the tape contains information directly related to school district students, it is an education record for the purpose of FERPA.” Consequently, the attorney general ruled that “the school district must not release the information in the tape that personally identifies a student.”
FERPA, also know as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal statute that prohibits schools from releasing a student’s educational records without the student’s or parents’ consent. Protection under FERPA is limited to educational records that “contain information directly related to a student.” “Directory information” including a student’s name and participation in officially recognized activities is explicitly discloseable under FERPA.
Even though the scope of FERPA protection is limited, the penalty for violation of its provisions can be harsh and can include the loss of federal funds, although that has not occurred under the law. When the Huffman Independent School District received a request for a copy of the videotape of the February 1997 board meeting, it asked the attorney general to determine whether it had to edit out the portion of the tape containing the students’ presentation, because they were identifiable. (Texas A.G. Op. 106063)