News Release

News and Public Information Office
Glos Center
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
(513) 529-7592
(513) 529-1950 fax
newsinfo@miamioh.edu

U.S. Supreme Court Lets Records Case Stand

12/08/1997

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

case.

"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

communications).

"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

records statute.

Within weeks of that ruling, Miami and other Ohio colleges and

universities received requests from local and national media for disciplinary

records.

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

incidents.

However, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Student Press

Law Center have requested access to student names, citing the Ohio Supreme

Court decision.

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.

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