Now my buddies at the Student Press Law Center tell me that the DOE (Department of Education) apparently has gone beyond bat-crack crazy and enacted some additional changes to FERPA that are slated to take effect Jan. 8.The author at Bellringers has often discussed how FERPA has been used to curtail the activities of the student press. Now if you have smart reporters on your school newspaper who might figure something, then the schools will err on the side of less transparency.
You see, these new rules broaden what the DOE considers to be confidential education records to include basic stuff like statistical data about school safety, discipline and academic performance if school officials think that the person requesting the information or even kiddos on campus can figure out who the information might be about.
Personally, I like the DOE’s illustration of compliance for this new FERPA rule. Under the new guidelines, school officials would not be able to confirm whether it disciplined a student for bringing a gun on campus if the identity of the gun-wielding student could be known to other kids on campus. Because, after all, it’s more important to protect the identity of felons instead of telling students, parents or teachers of impending doom or what steps were taken to deal with said impending doom. No siree, Missy, we’ll have none of that. Hush, hush, don’t say a word.