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Department of Education clarifies FERPA exceptions

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    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Freedom of Information    

Department of Education clarifies FERPA exceptions

  • A student victim’s right to release information about an assailant cannot be overruled by the Federal Educational Records Protection Act.

April 9, 2003 — Victims of violent crime on college campuses have a right to publicly share the final results of any disciplinary action taken against their assailants, according to a letter from a U.S. Department of Education representative clarifying the Federal Educational Records Protection Act.

The letter was sent in response to a request from S. Daniel Carter, senior vice president at Security On Campus, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of criminal violence at colleges and universities.

Carter described an incident at the College of William and Mary where a rape victim who posted information identifying her alleged assailant was told she had violated FERPA.

SOC sought to have the DOE clarify the act’s real intent for all colleges and universities, stating that legitimate concerns of crimes victims seeking justice should not fall under the same non-redisclosure regulations.

“They’re designed for third-party contractors who have no personal interest in the record,” Carter said.

FERPA was designed to guard the privacy of student grade and financial information, but has been used by college campuses to protect their public images by concealing campus crime rates, according to a press release from SOC.

The DOE letter, written by LeRoy Rooker, the agency’s family policy compliance office director, states that it is not a violation of student privacy law to discuss the results of a hearing when the accused student is found guilty of violating rules.

Rooker also noted in the letter that victims have a right to know the outcome of any assailant’s disciplinary hearing regardless of the hearing’s final outcome.

KD


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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