News & Observer Letter to the Editor from Joel Curran: FERPA’s purpose

Text:
Increase font size
Decrease font size

Your May 22 editorial “ FERPA law too often hides what public should know” neglected to mention several important points.

 

First, if Carolina wanted to hide from our mistakes, we would not have asked former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein to conduct an independent, comprehensive investigation into past improprieties – and we certainly would not have promised to make the findings public. We know that this is the only way to move forward.

 

Second, universities have a real legal responsibility at stake here. FERPA is a federal law; violating it has consequences. Judge Bryan Collins confirmed that releasing even a redacted version of the document The N&O requested would violate FERPA. The U.S. Department of Education, too, provided a letter supporting our position in this case.

 

Finally, contrary to what the editorial suggests, the law serves a very real purpose. Protecting student privacy is not a platitude or a shield. Universities are stewards of information that can permanently affect our students’ lives. We must live up to the trust they put in us.

 

Joel Curran

 

Vice Chancellor, Communications and Public Affairs, UNC-Chapel Hill

 

Published online at newsobserver.com on May 23, 2013