The Casper Star-Tribune editorial board writes:
When it comes to the public’s right to know, some things are very simple.
Here’s one of those things: University email accounts shouldn’t be exempt from public records requests. That includes those of students. That’s why lawmakers’ recent interest in writing a measure to ensure University of Wyoming student email records are shielded from such requests is misguided.
We understand the temptation to slam the door on anything that might infringe on students’ educational privacy, and we absolutely agree that some things are personal and confidential and must remain that way. That’s the point of an existing federal law. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects any record directly related to a particular student. Students control who sees their education record.
The solution here is not a blanket shield on all email records. The solution is a thoughtful approach that uses the options available within existing law. The university can refuse to provide public records that are directly related to a particular student or educational records, or officials can redact the sensitive information. Wyoming legislators shouldn’t spend their limited time enacting redundant legislation.
Read their full editorial here.
The editorial board may mean well, but I disagree with their statements about using FERPA to protect the privacy of student emails. Most emails are not “education records” as defined by FERPA. The default for student emails should be privacy/protection, with exemptions for law enforcement purposes requiring court oversight.