One of the greatest reporting tools available to student journalists is public records. Whether you’re looking for help filing your first ever records request or you’ve been doing this for years, the Student Press Law Center is here to help!
SPLC has created tools to help you file a request or appeal a denial, guides to understanding FOIA and other access laws, and more. We also have guides about public meetings, FERPA and other top access issues for student journalists.
Need more personalized help? Contact SPLC’s legal hotline for one-on-one assistance.
- FERPA - The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is often misused to block student journalists' access to information. Learn more about the law.
- FERPA Request Letter Generator - If you want to get a copy of the records your high school has on you, this form will help you generate a request for those documents.
- Know your rights when covering a protest - These legal reminders and tips will help you avoid and/or deal with confrontations while covering protests.
- How to access the information you need to cover mental illness at your school - Editor’s note: This story provides tips for finding information about mental health in schools. For guidance on ethical considerations while covering these stories, please consult National Alliance on Mental Illness or Active Minds. For legal considerations, contact SPLC’s legal hotline. Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are rising among teenagers. According to Active Minds,… Continue reading How to access the information you need to cover mental illness at your school
- Access to student government meetings and information - A state-by-state guide to your legal right to attend student government meetings.
- Freedom of Information FAQs -
The Student Press Law Center answers your most frequently asked questions about open records and open meetings.
- Access to college and university athletic program information -
As college athletics become an ever-bigger enterprise at many schools, the student media has an ever-growing obligation to monitor their programs. The following guide should provide you with valuable tools for obtaining the information you need to do your job.
- DIY: 10-step guide to auditing your school’s compliance with the Clery Act -
How well does your school comply with the Clery Act? We've assembled this guide to help you find out. In it are instructions, sample records requests and a checklist of basic requirements your school should be meeting.
- Student media guide to news gathering -
Learn what the law says about where you can go and what you can do to gather news.
- Access to university foundation records -
Whether university foundations are extensions of public colleges and universities — and therefore subject to state open record laws — or more similar to private, non-profit corporations (which are not subject to these laws) is a hotly contested issue.
- Access to faculty and other state employee evaluations -
A guide to state public record laws regarding the disclosure of faculty or other school employee evaluations.
- Freedom of Information law primer - For student journalists who know the basics of freedom of information law, "no comments" and locked doors are not dead-ends — just temporary obstacles that can very often be overcome.
- Student media guide to the Clery Act -
Frequently asked questions about the federal campus crime reporting law.
- Covering Campus Crime (4th Edition) - The SPLC's comprehensive handbook on getting access to college crime information includes a discussion of crime statistics, security logs and disciplinary records.
- Access to student athletic events -
Student media guide concerning the legal issues related to access and coverage of school-sponsored athletic events.
- Access to high school records -
Guide to using public records laws to cover stories of interest to your community.
- FERPA and access to public records -
The latest legal developments related to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (aka "Buckley Amendment").
- State-by-state guide to executive personnel searches -
The following states have enacted laws or issued court opinions that provide some indication regarding the availability of information related to searches for top-level executives at public schools or universities.
- Guide to access to executive personnel searches -
When school boards and university boards of trustees conduct executive searches, journalists often find themselves locked out.
- Access to college accreditation reports -
All colleges that participate in federal student loan programs must make accreditation reports available tothe public, which can be an important reporting tool for student journalists.