News Columns & Blogs

Schools misusing privacy law

The University of Kansas denied the father of Jason Wren, a freshman who died of alcohol poisoning in March, access to his son's disciplinary records, claiming that the information was protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Many other universities are also misapplying FERPA to hide rule breaking by college athletes, coaches and boosters, according to a six-month investigation by the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. FERPA is supposed to protect the privacy of students' report cards and transcripts, but at many schools, any document containing a student's name is considered an "education record.” As a result, schools such as the University of Nebraska refused to release any documents on NCAA violations. The Dispatch tried to obtain various records from the University of Kansas but was told that it would have pay $328, the eighth-highest amount of all the schools that the newspaper contacted, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.