Elyse Ashburn reports on a federal court order that because FERPA does not prohibit the University of Illinois from disclosing educational records of students, the university must disclose them in response to a FOIA request by the Chicago Tribune. I had blogged about the case earlier today. The judge’s analysis seemed to be that because no university is required to accept federal funding, no university is required to comply with FERPA. Therefore, because no federal law explicitly prohibited the U. of Illinois from disclosing the records, they were not exempt from Illinois’s laws regulating freedom of information requests.
In her coverage of the ruling, Ashburn writes, in part:
Steven J. McDonald, an expert on Ferpa and the general counsel at the Rhode Island School of Design, says a handful of other cases have looked narrowly at the question of whether Ferpa “prohibits” public colleges from releasing records. Some courts have arrived at conclusions similar to Judge Gottschall’s, he said. But others have held that as a practical matter a college could not reject federal funds and that, therefore, Ferpa is tantamount to a prohibition on releasing educational records.
He did not know of any cases where a public college had ultimately handed over student records that forced it to forgo federal funds. “It would shut a college down.”
Read more in the Chronicle of Higher Education.