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University of Oregon students criticize university for using FERPA to ‘frivolously’ avoid answering questions about sexual assault allegations involving athletes

(05/08/14 12:00pm)

The front page of today's Daily Emerald is a powerful one:The issue is a timely one for the University of Oregon student newspaper — this week, it came to light that three basketball players were accused in March of sexually assaulting a woman at an off-campus party and then later at one of the players' apartments. The university and police learned of the allegations in March, and the Daily Emerald and other media have questioned why the players were allowed to continue playing through the end of the season (their suspensions were announced Monday, the same day the district attorney's office announced it did not plan to charge any of the three players).

WRAS-FM student radio staff, supporters continue protest

(05/15/14 12:00pm)

It's been a little over a week since the student radio staff at Georgia State University's radio station learned of a deal that gives the state's public broadcasting affiliate control over daytime programming hours on the WRAS analog FM signal. The protest against the agreement has grown steadily in the days since students were told. Here's a rundown of what's happened since we last wrote about the situation:

School censorship elevates Mich. students' message to the national stage

(05/24/14 12:00pm)

Blocked by school censors from sharing a thoughtful discussion of mental-health issues in the pages of the Community High School student newspaper, two Ann Arbor, Mich., teens were forced instead to settle for The New York Times and NPR's "Weekend Edition."Proving once again that censorship is gasoline on the flame of a powerful idea, journalists Madeline Halpert and Eva Rosenfeld talked with NPR's Scott Simon today about how they were prevented from publishing a column examining the effects of depression on teens and why it's so hard for them to talk about.Halpert was one of several students who agreed, with written parental permission, to be named in a story confronting the stigma surrounding mental illness that can, with tragic consequences, deter people struggling with depression from seeking professional help.

Markey-Hatch student privacy proposal fails to fix FERPA foolishness

(05/14/14 12:00pm)

A newly released draft Senate bill addressing concerns over the security of student data is, at best, a swing-and-a-miss at the larger problems afflicting federal privacy law. At worst, it's a damaging setback for the public's right to know.U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released draft legislation Wednesday responding to widespread public alarm over a 2011 U.S. Department of Education rule that, in the view of critics, made it easier for schools and colleges to share identifiable student data with researchers.The bill proposes updates to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal student privacy law, but does nothing to address the main problem afflicting FERPA: That its definition of confidential "education records" is grossly over-broad, enabling schools to conceal critical public-safety information or employee wrongdoing on bogus "student privacy" grounds.

Access to teacher evaluation records fuels privacy versus transparency debate

(05/04/14 12:00pm)

How government employees do their jobs is both a matter of legitimate public concern and also a source of potential embarrassment for any employee whose records are published for public examination.The judgment call in favor of disclosure gets easier as the government employee's rank gets higher. We don't -- or shouldn't -- worry that a person willing to compete for a high-profile job like police chief or school superintendent will get his feelings hurt by critical comments about his job performance. The decision is trickier when the employee is a public school teacher, and doubly so because the way teachers are evaluated is itself a source of much dispute. If you're a teacher who believes the evaluation system is unfair, it feels especially unfair to be publicly labeled a "bad teacher" on the basis of an unreliable assessment.Reconciling that tension between individual privacy and public accountability has proven to be a struggle for state courts, and recent rulings have resulted in inconsistent outcomes for those seeking access to teachers' records:

So your school is under investigation for a Title IX sexual violence complaint — what do you do now?

(05/01/14 12:00pm)

Today, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released a list of 55 colleges and universities currently being investigated for potential Title IX violations involving sexual violence and harassment. Some of these investigations have been reported on previously, but others are being announced for the first time. The list's release has garnered national attention, and even brought the Department's website down briefly.If you're a student reporter covering one of these schools and just now learning about the investigation, you probably feel there's a lot to catch up on. Many of these investigations have been going on for months, at a minimum.