Jan 052011
 
 January 5, 2011  Court, Youth & Schools

Mary Beth Faller reports:

A federal judge has dismissed claims filed by two former Fountain Hills High School students against the school district, sending the case back to Maricopa County Superior Court.

On Dec. 17, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ruled he had no jurisdiction in the lawsuit filed by Marguerite T.M. Green and Taylor A. Oakes accusing the Fountain Hills Unified School District of violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The case started on March 17, 2009, when several teenagers were gathered at Green’s home in Fountain Hills. Green’s mother, Patricia Green, a member of the district governing board, was not at home. She returned just as deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the house and cited 16 teenagers for underage drinking, including Marguerite Green and Oakes. Patricia Green was not cited.

The MCSO then notified the school district of the citations. The school district suspended Marguerite Green and Oakes from student government activities and notified MCSO. Green, now a college student, filed a lawsuit seeking $20,000 each from the county, MCSO and the school district. The suit accuses the governmental entities of illegally sharing information about her citation.

Read more in the Arizona Republic.

So the district disciplined students for out-of-school activities. That, in and of itself, should be the basis for a lawsuit as far as I’m concerned. Why did MCSO notify the school district of the citations? And why did the school district share their disciplinary actions with MCSO? Was that, indeed, a FERPA violation? And if so, why doesn’t the federal court have jurisdiction? Is it because there is no private cause of action under FERPA?

If anyone has a copy of the court’s opinion, I’d love to see it.

Update: Thanks to @EducationNY,  here’s a link to the court’s opinion. As I suspected, the federal court decided it did  not have jurisdiction because FERPA does not create a private cause of action.

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