New York school district says it can’t discuss whether student accused to stabbing classmate was disciplined
Last month, a 12-year-old Beaver Ridge Central School student was arrested and charged with third-degree assault. He’s accused of stabbing a classmate in the back with a pencil, according to WNYF, the local Fox News affiliate. The school district’s superintendent told reporters she couldn’t say whether the student was disciplined because of FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Source: WNYF, Feedback: Beaver River student accused of stabbing another student with pencil. (June 27, 2014)
Former Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein: I guess this is a legitimate use of FERPA, at least in the same way that using a baseball bat to open a jar of peanuts is a legitimate use of a baseball bat: it’s not a good idea, and it wasn’t the intended purpose when it was created, it swings the same way no matter how illegitimate the target.
Let me back up. It used to be the case that, in all institutions, you couldn’t disclose the outcome of disciplinary hearings to the public. That changed for postsecondary institutions in 1998, when Congress amended FERPA to exempt the final outcomes of disciplinary proceedings for crimes of violence that are also violations of institutional rules. (See 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g(b)(6)(B) and 34 CFR Part 99.31(a)(14).)
So if your child tells you that someone got stabbed in the back with a pencil in his classroom, you’re entitled to know the disciplinary outcome (assuming the assailant was disciplined) if your child is a 17- or 18-year-old college freshman, but not if he or she is a 17- or 18-year-old high school senior.
Which strikes me as completely idiotic. If it is the position of the Department of Education that stabbing someone is childhood shenanigans in high school but turns into serious business in college, I think there is no evidence to support that assertion.
But that’s not the school’s fault. This is a place where the black-letter law of FERPA looks like it was written by an anti-social lunatic with a vendetta against minors.
We rate this: a pretty legitimate use of FERPA