Federal judge prohibits universities from releasing student disciplinary records

OHIO — The U.S. District Court for the Southern Districtof Ohio permanently enjoined Miami University and Ohio State Universityon Monday from releasing student disciplinary records that hadbeen requested by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Education Department filed a lawsuit against the two schoolsin 1998 to prevent them from releasing the records to The Chronicle,arguingthat students’ disciplinary records are protected by the federalFamily Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as the BuckleyAmendment.

Judge George C. Smith said in his opinion that "the studentdisciplinary records of Defendants Ohio State University and MiamiUniversity are education records as defined by FERPA."

The district court’s ruling contrasts with a 1997 decisionby the Ohio Supreme Court, which said university disciplinaryrecords are not education records under FERPA, and are thereforesubject to the state’s open-records law.

The Chronicle of Higher Educationfiled an open-recordsrequest after the state supreme court’s ruling to gain accessto the disciplinary records of students at Miami University andOhio State University. In response, the Education Department filedits lawsuit against the two schools seeking to prevent them fromreleasing the records.