Q: Can we publish students’ names and photos online without parental permission, even when the students are minors?
A: Yes. Many people mistakenly believe that parental consent is needed in order to identify students in a publication– be it print or online– but no federal privacy law requires such consent. If your school tells you there is a policy in place requiring parental consent, ask to see the school district policy in writing. If the policy only applies to websites hosted on a school server, look into getting your website hosted on a third-party server.
This answer also applies to printing the name of a minor who has allegedly committed a crime. The decision about whether to publish a student’s name is an editorial one, not one compelled by the law. Many news organizations choose not to publish the names of minors in the case of less serious crimes, but in either case, parental consent is not required.
Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.”
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