State Laws Vary

Article excerpt

Congress changed federal law five years ago to allow colleges and universities to release at least some disciplinary records involving serious crimes. But a recent audit found less than one in five schools disclose the information - in part, perhaps, because of the mish-mash of state laws concerning disclosure.

The Student Press Law Center conducted an inquiry over the summer and found few schools willing to release the final outcomes of disciplinary cases involving sex crimes and other crimes of violence, as allowed under the 1998 amendment to the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Of the 102 schools surveyed, 46 public schools and 13 private schools sent some form of response. Of the 59, 17 schools provided at least some of the information requested, while 26 provided none. Of the 16 schools remaining, eight claimed no such offenses had occurred, and eight claimed they needed more time to respond. None of the private schools released any of the requested information.

According to the SPLC report, several schools cited FERPA as the reason they did not release the information - despite the 1998 amendment to the contrary. Others said they were either compelled or restricted from releasing the records under state law, but many of those schools were in agreement over their concern for students' privacy. …