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U.S. Supreme Court Lets Records Case Stand
Miami's effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court clarify a conflict between
state and federal laws regarding access to student disciplinary records has
been turned down.
The nation's high court Monday (Dec. 8) declined to accept the
"Going into the appeal process, the university knew that the odds of the
U.S. Supreme Court reviewing the case were 100 to one. We were hopeful that the
high court would intervene and end the confusion that exists for all of Ohio's
state-assisted colleges and universities," said Richard Little (university
"Still, this decision does provide further guidance," said Little, who
indicated the university will be turning over the student disciplinary records
sought by The Miami Student and other newspapers.
This past July, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that university disciplinary
records are not "educational records" and thus are not protected by the federal
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The state high court said
students' disciplinary records are open for inspection under Ohio's public
Within weeks of that ruling, Miami and other Ohio colleges and
universities received requests from local and national media for disciplinary
That prompted the U.S. Department of Education to send a letter to Miami
and other state universities calling the Ohio
Supreme Court decision "wrong as a matter of law" and
reminding the universities that they must comply with the privacy
requirements of FERPA.
In its letter, the U.S. Department of Education said FERPA does not
prohibit release of disciplinary records with `personally identifiable'
information deleted. This would include students' names, Social Security and
student identification numbers, and exact dates, times and location of alleged
However, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Student Press
Law Center have requested access to student names, citing the Ohio Supreme
Without the U.S. Supreme Court stepping in to provide some clarity to the
situation, and barring legal intervention by the U.S. Department of Education,
Miami must follow the Ohio Supreme Court decision and respond to their
requests, Little said.