Student Press Law Center Urges Schools to Take on FERPA…

To shed light on public records being held secret by many U.S. colleges, the Student Press Law Center is urging students everywhere to flood their schools with requests to see their own education records.

The goal of the campaign is to show what the center’s director says is hypocrisy by colleges in their application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Frank LoMonte says they are hiding non-academic records from the public but not including them in students’ academic files.

He suspects students won’t receive much more than their academic transcripts and financial-aid information.

But they should receive much more based on how many colleges and universities use the term education records to shield everything from athletic scandals, sexual-abuse complaints, emails between high-ranking administrators and even parking tickets.

In the name of student privacy, schools, including Ohio State University, have shielded emails, rosters, airplane manifests, NCAA reports, security-video tapes and even newspaper clippings, to name a few.

The Student Press Law Center says it’s time to fully expose the flaws of FERPA.

“We just got to the point where we couldn’t sit back and wait,” LoMonte said.

The intent of the 38-year-old law was clear: protect academic records from public disclosure and give students the right to inspect records that schools keep about them. The author of the law reiterated that point in a Dispatchinterview in 2008.

But the law has since become a shield for schools to hide everything from NCAA rules violations to rape.

Student Press Law Center

Student Press Law Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The campaign, called Let’s Break FERPA, which is detailed at, asks college students to request and review their records, then report their findings to LoMonte.

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FERPA interpretations differ from school to school…

A Mizzou J-Schooler, Allison Prang, did a fine job on the subject of FERPA inconsistencies, in a piece for the Kansas City Star.

Her lede:

If you’re a student at a Kansas college or university, you don’t need to worry about your school giving your contact information to companies that want to sell you their products or services.

It’s illegal.

But if you’re a student at a college or university in Missouri, you just might need to be concerned.

Companies and outside organizations frequently request broad lists of directory information from schools

In Missouri there are no prohibitions against using it for marketing aimed at students. Companies and organizations that ask for the information include test preparation, graduation announcement and textbook businesses.

In Kansas, though directory information is still considered a public record, the state Open Records Acts bars people from using it for solicitations.