FIRE is excited to announce the publication of a new article, “Baking Common Sense into the FERPA Cake: How to Meaningfully Protect Student Rights and the Public Interest,” in the Notre Dame Journal of Legislation.
This legal scholarship, authored by Adam Goldstein and Zach Greenberg, two of FIRE’s Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellows, explores how the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has been distorted to harm the very students it’s designed to protect. In the article, Adam and Zach discuss how a statute enacted to safeguard student privacy and access has morphed into an excuse for colleges to conceal newsworthy information, such as records regarding professor scandals, crime statistics, and corrupt admissions practices.
Additionally, the article proposes solutions for restoring FERPA to its original purpose. FERPA can be fixed by allowing individuals to sue over FERPA violations and by providing a mechanism for the Department of Education to hold colleges accountable for abusing the statute. This will ensure that universities are no longer able to deliberately misinterpret its provisions with impunity. Also, the proposed reforms would harmonize FERPA with other laws affecting higher education, such as the Clery Act and state open record statutes, creating clarity for all parties involved.
Those who care about student rights, privacy, and institutional accountability should check out the full article online at the Notre Dame Journal of Legislation’s website.