Skip to content

3. FERPA

Posts

  • California

    Pursuant to Section 6454(k) of the CPRA, “[r]ecords, the disclosure of which is exempt or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege” are exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the CPRA.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(k). Thus, if a record is exempt under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), (20 U.S.C. §1232g), it would be exempt under the CPRA.

    However, in Poway Unified School District v. Superior Court, 62 Cal. App. 4th 1496, 1507, 73 Cal. Rptr. 2d 777 (1998), the court held that neither California’s Education Code pertaining to pupil records (Cal. Ed. Code § 49076) nor FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g) governed tort claims filed against a school district arising from a hazing incident at a high school.  One claim was filed by a student who pled guilty in juvenile court to sodomizing another student with a broomstick. Id. at 1499-5000.  The court reasoned that just because a litigant has chosen to sue a school district does not “transmorgrify the Claims Act claim into a [‘education record’ or ‘public record’].” Id. at 1507.

    Subsequently, the court in BRV, Inc. v. Superior Court, 143 Cal. App. 4th 742, 755, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 519 (2006), held that a report detailing allegations of misconduct against students by the district’s superintendent was not exempt from public disclosure under either the California Education Code or FERPA.  It reasoned that “[a] public record is one that ‘directly relates’ to a student and is ‘maintained’ by the school.” Id. at 754.  The statute, the court said, was “directed at institutional records maintained in the normal course of business by a single, central custodian of the school. Typical of such records would be registration forms, class schedules, grade transcripts, discipline reports, and the like.” Id.  Because the investigation report was not “something regularly done in the normal course of business” and not “regularly maintains in a central location along with education records . . . in separate files for each student,” the court held the education statutes did not preclude access.  But see Rim of the World Unified Sch. Dist. v. Superior Court, 104 Cal. App. 4th 1393, 129 Cal. Rptr. 2d 11 (2003) (holding federal FERPA preempted state statute requiring disclosure of student expulsion records); see generally Porten v. Univ. of San Francisco, 64 Cal. App. 3d 825, 134 Cal. Rptr. 839 (1976) (recognizing state constitutional right of privacy in student records).

    view more
  • Georgia

    In 1993, the Georgia Supreme Court seriously questioned whether the Buckley Amendment had any impact on disclosure obligations under the Act since the Amendment did not itself prohibit disclosure of records, but rather provided for the withholding of federal funds. See Red & Black Publ’g Co. v. Bd. of Regents, 262 Ga. 848, 427 S.E.2d 257 (1993) (rejecting state university system contentions that records reflecting charges of violations of university rules and regulations—e.g., hazing charges—are “education records” within the meaning of the Buckley Amendment). In 2012, the Act was amended to exempt from required disclosure any record that would not be subject to disclosure, or the disclosure of which would jeopardize the receipt of federal funds, under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act aka the Buckley Amendment. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(37).

    view more
  • Iowa

    The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) may protect records containing personally identifiable information from disclosure. Educational records may be withheld in their entirety as “personally identifiable information” where the requester would otherwise know the identity of the referenced student(s), even with redactions. See Press-Citizen Co., Inc. v. Univ. of Iowa, 817 N.W.2d 480, 492 (Iowa 2012).

    view more
  • Vermont

    Section 317(c)(11) of the Public Records Act exempts from public inspection and copying “[s]tudent records, including records of a home study student; provided, however, that such records shall be made available upon request under the provisions of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, as may be amended.” The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s decision ordering disclosure of the “‘final results’ of any disciplinary proceeding against a student alleged to have committed a ‘crime of violence’ or ‘nonforcible sex offense’ where the college determines that the student violated the college's rules by committing the offense” citing to FERPA and recognizing that “the ‘student records’ exception [under the Public Records Act] itself provides an exception for records that may be released, upon request, under FERPA.”  Caledonian-Record Publ'g Co. v. Vt. State Colleges, 2003 VT 78, ¶ 12, 833 A.2d 1273 (Vt. 2003).

    view more
  • Wisconsin

    Wisconsin has a statute that provides similar protections to FERPA for pupil records.  Wis. Stat. § 118.125; see S.P.A. v. Grinnell Mut. Reins. Co., 2011 WI App 31, 332 Wis. 2d 134, 796 N.W.2d 874.

    view more