Va. Coalition for Open Government: Education privacy law used as excuse to used to conceal records

Education is a $1.1 trillion industry in America, one requiring vigilant public oversight – oversight that increasingly is frustrated when answers to simple questions are concealed behind an impenetrable wall of “student privacy.”

Ask a public university or a school district anything about any issue of public importance – sexual harassment by employees, crime on campus, athlete recruiting scandals – and you can expect to hear: “We can’t tell you anything because of FERPA.” Even when they know it’s not true.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a well-intentioned federal law requiring schools and colleges to maintain the confidentiality of “education records,” has been distorted by educational institutions into a catch-all excuse to conceal wrongdoing and mismanagement.