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Put yourself in the place of a school or college attorney. Your client, the institution, is trying to decide whether to fulfill or reject a journalist's request for public records.
Honoring the request is going to be a nuisance, and the records contain some embarrassing information the school would rather not see on the evening news.
The records pretty clearly don't contain any confidential student information -- but the journalist can't easily prove that.
If you're curious how much Southern Utah University pays its president ($281,513 in base salary) or head basketball coach ($206,628), that's long been accessible with a few keystrokes.
In just a little over a month, journalists across the country will celebrate open government in action. Held annually in March, Sunshine Week is a chance for journalists to demonstrate to lawmakers and the public the importance of open government and easy access to public records.
In the past, the Student Press Law Center has teamed up with student journalists across the country on public records projects.
Historical trivia fact: Until 2006, American phone consumers were paying a 3 percent tax on long-distance phone calls -- to cover the cost of fighting the Spanish-American War.
It's hard to imagine a subject in which there is a clearer public interest in complete information than the integrity of police.
Managing unruly kids who lash out at classmates and teachers is one of the most delicate tasks for schools, and those who must manage emergencies when physical safety is at stake understandably resist being second-guessed.
But there's evidence that students are at times pinned, tied up or locked away in closet-sized isolation rooms for just being annoying even if they do not present a danger to others.
Federal statistics indicate that disabled students and racial minorities are disproportionately likely to be placed under physical restraint, raising questions about whether the safety measures are administered even-handedly.
Finding out what techniques your school district uses to respond to assaultive kids -- and how often -- should be a matter of a single public records request.
Legislation that would keep private records relating to college and university presidential searches in Wyoming passed through the Senate yesterday and awaits the governor's signature.
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McBurney v. Young, a case involving out-of-state public records requests.
Records dribbling into the public domain as part of an NCAA probe of the University of North Carolina athletic program have disclosed that athletes flocked to particular courses that may not have been especially demanding.
A federal privacy law meant to safeguard student grades, transcripts and disciplinary files continues being misapplied to obstruct public accountability, even where no legitimate privacy interests are at stake.
Exhibit A is the University of Oklahoma's stubborn insistence that parking tickets are "confidential education records" under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
For at least half a decade, school officials in Columbus, Ohio, carried out an inventive method of reducing the rate of student absenteeism.
They erased the absences.
When it comes to colleges inventing strained excuses to withhold public records and conceal unpleasant truths from the public, it's hard to pick just one standout.
As a combined result of the difficult job market and the crushing expense of student loan debt, many thousands of recent graduates are experiencing an unwelcome "reunion" with their colleges -- in court.
The enormity of how much students owe is well-documented.
After a Florida court declared that reports about teacher performance must be kept confidential for a year after they are created, a state legislator is proposing to keep the information off-limits for even longer.
A bill filed Monday by state Rep.
When students arrive on campus underprepared for the rigors of college coursework, everybody pays. Colleges must invest in offering "developmental" classes in math and English, and students end up paying full-freight tuition for courses that generally do not count toward the credit-hours needed for a degree.
The cost of remedial education -- and whether it's being over-used -- is a topic of intense focus in the education press and in the school reform field. A recently published study shows that a rising percentage of Colorado high school graduates -- as many as 60 percent in some municipalities -- require remediation when they enter college.
While such statistics suggest colleges are overrun with academic stragglers, there is in fact some indication that developmental courses are being over-prescribed because of unreliable placement tests, and that a substantial share of those enrolled in remedial coursework don't need to be there.
Student journalists should take advantage of the many publicly available databases and reports to localize this phenomenon on their own campuses.
The expense of remedial coursework -- paying college tuition prices for what should've been taught in high school at no cost -- is part of the larger story about soaring college costs and student loan debt, and it's part of the reason so many students need more than the traditional four years to earn a degree.
A Western Michigan University undergraduate says he was thrown out of school and banned from college premises after being hospitalized for clinical depression.
Jackson Peebles told the Western Herald that, even after his own physician gave him a note clearing him to return to school, WMU initially refused to readmit him, alleging he violated a student conduct code against "[c]ausing physical harm to self or others," although he neither attempted suicide nor threatened anyone else.
In February, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving requests for public records from out-of-state residents.
Monday, the court issued its unanimous opinion in the case, McBurney v.
Ever wish you had one of those electronic manatee tracking collars to keep tabs on where government officials are going -- the ones who are always "out of the office" or "in meetings" and unavailable for interviews?
Well, until they start microchipping college presidents (note: that would be great), journalists will have to settle for the next best thing: Appointment calendars.
Last week, a Pennsylvania court decided that reporters for the Associated Press are entitled under that state's open-records act to complete copies of Gov.
College campuses face a difficult balancing act in responding to excessive drinking by underage students.
Aided by technological advances, government agencies are constantly inventing new ways to collect information -- and it was only a matter of time before "drone surveillance" made it way onto college campuses.
Last week's announcement that the University of Alabama-Huntsville had acquired a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles with an eye toward equipping them with police security cameras undoubtedly sent a shiver through public urinators and weed cultivators everywhere.