WASHINGTON, D.C. — The names of students found guilty of violentcrimes in campus disciplinary proceedings can now be released to the publicunder new guidelines released Thursday by the Department of Education.
The DOE regulations reflect changes to the federal Family EducationalRights and Privacy Act — which was enacted to protect the privacy of students’educational records — and clarify how schools should interpret the law.
The rules do not require schools to disclose any of the information,but rather ensure that colleges and universities cannot use FERPA as justificationfor refusal to release the records if required to do so under state lawor some other legal mandate.
“In the past, colleges have routinely been able to cite FERPA as anexcuse for not disclosing campus court records; some have even gone tocourt over it,” said Daniel Carter, vice president of the campus crimewatchdog group Security on Campus. “The new regulations will not totallyeliminate the use of FERPA to withhold student disciplinary records, butare a major step in the right direction.”
The new rules, which take effect August 7, limit the type of informationthat falls under FERPA protection and more clearly define the kinds ofoffenses for which campus court results can be provided.
Under the guidelines, schools are now allowed to provide the final resultsof campus court cases in which a student is found to be in violation ofschool rules for allegedly committing a crime of violence or nonforciblesex offense.
In addition to the student’s name, schools can release information aboutthe violation that was committed, including the institutional rules orcode sections that were violated and any findings supporting the institution’sconclusion that the crime was committed, as well as a description of thedisciplinary action taken by the institution, including its date of impositionand duration. However, information concerning victims and witnesses maynot be disclosed.
Although an accused student may have the option to appeal the finding,schools do not have to wait for the appeals process to be completed beforereleasing the information. The regulations allow for disclosure of recordsfor any proceeding dating back to October 7, 1998.
A complete listing of and definitions for what crimes are consideredcrimes of violence is also included among the regulations. These includearson, assault, burglary, destruction or damage of property, homicide,kidnapping, robbery and forcible sex offenses, including rape and sexualassault.
The complete text of the DOE guidelines can be found at http://ocfo.ed.gov/Fedreg/finrule/q300/070600a.txt.