According to reports from local California media outlet KGET 17, during a meeting with parents regarding a January 2013 school shooting, officials of the Taft Union High School District (TUHSD) addressed the parents’ demand to know why the district refused to disclose the disciplinary records of Bryan Oliver, the accused shooter. Kern County School Legal Services said it is because releasing student information is not only against the state’s Education Code, it is also against federal law.
The District Attorney’s office noted it is not a crime to disclose a student’s record, but it is illegal. This means if a school releases the information, it could get sued and/or lose state and federal funding. The Parents said Oliver was suspended for two days last year for having a hit list, and now they want want answers.
TUHSD’s Interim Superintendent said the district is bound by law to protect Oliver’s student records. “We understand that it is very difficult, but we just we just can’t,” said Interim Superintendent William McDermott.
Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as well as California Education Code Section 49076, “a school district is not authorized to permit access to pupil records to a person without written parental consent or under judicial order.” According to Kern County School Legal Services, the district could also lose federal funding.
There are some exceptions for school officials, attorneys, and law enforcement, but not for the public. Attorney Loren Kleier said this is true, but he thinks the district is just being cautious. “I think the district knows there is probably going to be a civil lawsuit out of this and so they are probably playing it close to the vest,” said Kleier.
Source: KGET.com, 1/23/13, By Staff
[Editor's Note: In November 2007, Legal Clips summarized an article in Education Week, which reported that the U.S. Department of Education had issued simpler guidance for parents and educators aimed at clearing up widespread confusion about when information may be shared under the federal student privacy law. The document tried to help schools more easily identify students who pose a threat of violence and get preventive aid to them. The simpler guidance for understanding FERPA grew out of recommendations by federal officials who studied the fatal April 2007 shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, Virginia.]