N.Y. community college says student’s arrest report is protected by FERPA
Last month, the student senate vice president at Hudson Valley Community College was arrested for threatening another student with a knife. Campus safety sent an alert to students, but withheld his name and have refused to give the incident report to reporters at The Hudsonian, the school’s student newspaper. Administrators said doing so would be a violation of FERPA.
Source: The Hudsonian, College refuses to reveal public records (Sept. 27, 2012)
Former SPLC Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein: HVCC isn’t only wrong on FERPA, they’re withholding information that state law requires them to disclose. Here’s why.
- FERPA doesn’t protect records in the possession of campus security or law enforcement. See 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g(a)(4)(b)(ii), excluding from FERPA’s protection “records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement[.]”
- Even if FERPA protected law enforcement records (which it doesn’t), HVCC defines names as directory information, a class of data not subject to FERPA.
- Furthermore, HVCC’s security officers are peace officers under NY Criminal Procedure Law. They’re using state authority to arrest people.
- NY’s Public Officers Law defines an agency subject to state open records laws as “any state or municipal department, board, bureau, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office or other governmental entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for the state or any one or more municipalities thereof.”
- HVCC is a SUNY school. So, you know, a state entity. With state-sworn officers performing the governmental function of policing.
So yeah, the security officer who asserted that this information is protected by FERPA managed to say the dumbest thing a public employee from New York has said since Alexander Hamilton said, “I’m just going to pop over to Weehawken and see if the Vice President is still having a temper tantrum.”
We rate this: not protected by FERPA at all