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Court upholds Miami on student records
A ruling today (June 27) by the U.S. Court of Appeals affirms that student disciplinary records are protected by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The decision is the latest in a complex seven-year legal battle that began in 1995 when The Miami Student sued Miami University for access to disciplinary records.
Miamis position has been to be as open as the law permits while protecting students privacy to the extent required by law.
Our goal has been to seek clarity on an issue that has been decidedly murky, not just for Miami but for universities across the country, said Holly Wissing, director of news and public information.
That stance has resulted in lawsuits from the media for not releasing records and from the U.S. Department of Education for attempting to cooperate with the media.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that disciplinary records are not confidential under FERPA regulations and that they are open for inspection under Ohios public records law.
Within weeks of that ruling Miami and other Ohio colleges and universities received requests from local and national media for disciplinary records.
Miami and Ohio State were in the process of responding to a request from the Chronicle of Higher Education when the U.S. Department of Education filed a complaint in U.S. District Court to prohibit both universities from releasing the information.
In 2000, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in a 49-page opinion that disciplinary records with personally identifiable information were part of students educational records and thus private.
That decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by the Chronicle.