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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Naples News Reports on AMU's FERPA Violations

The Naples News has picked up the AveWatch story of the FERPA violations by AMU, when AMU posted private student records on the Internet. From the Naples News:
Ave Maria University Vice President of Academic Affairs Jack Sites said he had believed the posted documents were private and only available to those who specifically knew the Web site's address.

"It was intended for our internal private use," Sites said. "If anybody had any idea that anybody from the outside would have had access to it, we never would have put it up. Obviously, we regret that it happened."

Sites said he wasn't sure how long the documents had been posted to the site, but university officials removed the information once they knew it was publicly available.

The documents' existence was first reported Monday morning by the Web site Avewatch.com, which stated it accessed the documents using a Web search engine.

The Daily News also retrieved the documents using a search engine.

Avewatch published its report at 9 a.m. By noon, the documents were removed and by 2:30 p.m. the committee's entire Web site was taken down.

Sites added the university was in the process of contacting affected students to make sure they were aware of the disclosure and to apologize.

He said the school is taking steps to ensure that similar situations don’t occur in the future.
The article has interesting comments from the Department of Education:
"Generally speaking, grade point averages are protected as confidential under this law and would be considered covered by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act," said Jim Bradshaw, a Department of Education spokesman.
........
Bradshaw, the Department of Education spokesman, said typically no action is taken in cases relating to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act unless a complaint is filed.

Bradshaw added that if an academic institution is found in violation of the act, usually the department works with the school to resolve the matter, although the law does include enforcement options.

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