Supreme Court agrees to hear FERPA case

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a school district's appeal of a federal court ruling that said peer grading violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as the Buckley Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled in October that the common practice of allowing students to grade each other's work violates FERPA, a federal law that keeps student 'education records' private.

The case began in 1998 when Kristja Falvo, a mother of three children attending school in the Owasso Independent School District in Owasso, Okla., sued the district. Falvo began complaining to school administrators about the grading practice in 1997 when she learned that several of her children's teachers were allowing students to grade one another's work and call out their grades in class, which she said caused her children embarrassment. The district told Falvo that students always had the option of reporting their grades to their teachers privately and refused to stop the practice.

Falvo argued that the practice violated FERPA, and the appeals court agreed.

'The circuit's reasoning was that the grading practice resulted in the disclosure of an education record and that such disclosures were prohibited,' said Karen Long, attorney for the school district. Long said she expects the case to be heard sometime during the Supreme Court's next term, which begins in October.

The case marks the first time the Court will interpret the application of FERPA, which was passed in 1976.

Fall 2001, reports