Video of school board meeting interpreted as 'education record'





TEXAS— The Texas attorney general has handed down an informal ruling stating that a tape of a school board meeting that includes a high school student drama production is an educational record protected from disclosure by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), referred to as the Buckley Amendment.

FERPA is a federal law that allows the government to impose penalties on universities that disclose student educational records.

Texas Attorney General Dan Morales’ office ruled that because the tape “contains information directly related to school district students, it is an education record for purposes of FERPA.”

The Huffman Independent School District requested the attorney general’s opinion after a request was made for a video of a February school board meeting.

The school district had inquired to find out if it had to edit the dramatic performance out of the tape before releasing it.

The attorney general’s letter to the school district made clear that this was an opinion related only to the case at hand.

“This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and may not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records,” the letter stated.

Nancy Monson, executive director of the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, said the ruling was based on an unrealistic interpretation of FERPA.

“It is our understanding that this law [FERPA] was intended to protect student records, not public appearances,” Monson said.

“[The students] were going to be performing this in public the next night, which makes this seem somewhat ridiculous.”


Fall 1997, reports