Q&A: Graduation list


From The Daily Reporter (Green­field):

Q: We recently published a story questioning Greenfield-Central High School’s 2010 graduation rate. We have a list of 108 students who withdrew from high school between their freshman and senior years. We want to contact each student on that list. We have informally asked both the Department of Education and the school system for contact information and have been rebuffed. I haven’t been able to find anything in state statute that says information on students must/may be kept confidential. But I also haven’t found anything that says it can be released. Should we make formal requests and ask them to cite a statute for denying access? The alternative is for us to track each person down ourselves.

A: The problem with locating the former students is that the federal Family Education Records and Privacy Act requires confidentiality for educational records of students.

While sometimes the scope of the statute has been stretched by school systems, in this case I think they are correct in keeping the files confidential.

Does the school create a directory with student names, parents’ names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., every year to help students contact each other for homework or parents for carpooling, etc.?

If so, those directories would not be subject to FERPA and should be made available for inspection and copying. They may contain useful information for your search.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.