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For-profit Kentucky college sanctioned $126,000 after "meritless" claim of FERPA secrecy

(12/05/13 5:04pm)

Colleges are adept at frivolously crying "student privacy!" to conceal information that might expose institutional wrongdoing, but one Kentucky college is learning that misuse of the federal student confidentiality statute can carry a heavy price. A circuit court judge in Franklin County, Ky., is fining Lexington-based National College $1,000 per day for raising unfounded legal arguments in refusing to obey a subpoena from the state's attorney general, Jack Conway, demanding disclosure of internal college records dealing with marketing, employee compensation, student complaints and other management practices. The attorney general's office is seeking National's records as part of an ongoing lawsuit that alleges National made deceptive advertising claims inflating the successful job-placement rate of its graduates.

Montana Supreme Court boots open-records appeal in Krakauer case on legal technicality

(05/08/15 2:10pm)

The state's appeal of an order granting author Jon Krakauer access to public records about a campus sexual assault case was filed prematurely, the Montana Supreme Court decides. The order means it will be many months before a ruling that clarifies whether FERPA, the federal student privacy law, forbids colleges from disclosing records about disciplinary appeals in rape cases.

Congress' proposed FERPA amendments restrict use of student data for "marketing," while leaving public-records access problems unaddressed

(08/16/15 6:30pm)

Four bills are pending in Congress to tighten access to student data under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. None of the measures appears to worsen journalists' access to public records from schools and colleges, but none addresses the well-documented misuse of FERPA to conceal campus scandals under the guide of "student privacy."

Open-government advocates urge Montana court to release athlete disciplinary appeal records to author Krakauer

(11/29/15 2:38pm)

The best-selling author of Missoula is seeking access to files indicating why the state overturned a campus disciplinary board's findings in a high-profile sexual assault case involving a University of Montana athlete. But the state argues that granting Jon Krakauer's request will put the state in violation of federal privacy laws and place $263 million in federal funding at risk.

Federal judge smacks down Northern Kentucky's reliance on FERPA privacy to keep secrets in student's sexual-assault lawsuit

(10/30/16 4:12pm)

Northern Kentucky University has repeatedly insisted that the FERPA privacy statute forbids disclosure of any information about how it responds to students' claims of sexual assault, but a U.S. district judge has now sanctioned the university's legal counsel for over-reliance on FERPA to obstruct a student's Title IX lawsuit. 

Louisiana court ruling eases journalists' access to education data sets -- but are school lawyers paying attention?

(10/31/16 10:30pm)

Misapplying federal privacy law, education agencies have been withholding access to data when the data involves a small group of students, even where nothing about the data is matchable to a known individual. That should happen less frequently after a Louisiana court's favorable resolution of an unusual public-records lawsuit.