I’ve been somewhat foaming at the keyboard over a student privacy issue in Oklahoma whereby the state required parents and students to waive their federally protected privacy rights in order to secure an educational benefit. As I blogged previously, the waiver was overly broad, it did not clearly explain that the state would post identifiable (and sometimes sensitive) student information on the Internet with the student’s name and high school, and the records the state disseminated to the public and media were protected records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The state may also have violated another federal law that protects the records of students with disabilities (I.D.E.A.), as that law, too, prohibits states from publicly sharing educational records that could be linked to identifiable students. You can read my previous coverage of this case here, here, and here.
In any event, I thought it was interesting to read how the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a FERPA case in that state. Randy Ludlow of The Columbus Dispatch reports:
Ruling in a case brought against Ohio State University by sports cable TV giant ESPN, the Ohio Supreme Court said yesterday that confidential student “educational records” are not restricted to academics and financial aid.
Ohio State acted properly in citing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to deny certain football scandal-related records sought last year by ESPN amid the forced resignation of coach Jim Tressel, the justices ruled.
In a unanimous ruling, the court found that the act forbids the release of some records sought by ESPN and ruled that attorney-client privilege shielded other records from release.
ESPN had argued that the records concerning potential misconduct by football players were not “educational records” and were not exempt from release under the act or the state’s public records laws.
The Supreme Court disagreed, saying Ohio State could be punished by a loss of its federal funding, which exceeds $919 million a year, if it released some of the records sought by the TV sports network.
The justices found that the prohibition against the release of records is not restricted to those involving academic performance and financial aid because the law also generally forbids the release of records “directly related to students.”
Read more on The Chicago Tribune.
Ohio gets it. Oklahoma doesn’t. And who’s paying the price in Oklahoma? The students and parents who had their private information publicly posted on the Internet where anyone in the world can read about their educational problems and family crises or issues.
This is just so very wrong.