Stop hiding behind FERPA


“FERPA! FERPA! FERPA!” Am I mistaken, or is this the only thing officials from Florida A&M’s Office of Communications say?

Recently, a board of trustees member was removed from his or her post, and the university did not bother to explain or justify its reasoning for removing the person.

Not only is a BOT member a public official but any action taken by or against the board of trustees pertaining to that office is not covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by any stretch of the imagination. FERPA does not protect a student as a public official.

According to “FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are ‘eligible students.’”

This means student records, such as transcripts, disciplinary action involving academics and other educational records, are kept private. That is completely understandable and I expect my university to do just that.

However, people need to realize that by putting yourself into the position of a public figure and joining the BOT, you are subject to scrutiny, and your actions have to be made publicly. For the university to try to protect a public figure by screaming FERPA makes me question what other lines they are willing to blur to save face.

With the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools investigating our university, we need administrators to follow the law as closely as possible. When I contact the Office of Communications to get information on a BOT member, not a student, there is no legal reason to withhold such information.

If there have been any email exchanges between BOT members or from the university to BOT members, then these become public record and fall under the Florida Sunshine Law. All emails sent are public record, and if the dismissal of the BOT member is mentioned in these emails, then the member’s dismissal is public record.

Don’t worry, everyone, I am on the case. I will be delivering you this story, no matter what.