Ohio Privacy Act (School Records)

Ohio Privacy Act (School Records)
Posted on 10/01/2016
The Ohio Revised Code 149.43 provides that any record kept by any public office including a school district is a public record which must be open to the public at all reasonable times for inspection. Excepted from this requirement are medical records security records infrastructure records records pertaining to adoption probation parole proceedings attempts by unmarried minors to seek court permission for abortion trial preparation records confidential law enforcement investigatory records confidential investigatory records of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission peace officer residential and financial information records pertaining to the recreational activities of a minor and records the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law including “trade secrets.”  The law requires further that any person having custody of public records must upon request make available copies of such records at cost and within a reasonable period of time.
As a general rule the right of access to public records is subject only to the limitation that the proposed inspection does not endanger the safety of the record or unreasonably interfere with the operation of the office having custody of the record.  A person cannot be required to establish a proper purpose or any purpose for a public records request.  Access to public records must be allowed even if they have been put on microfilm computer disks or videotape.
Special rules apply in the case of student records.  Although teachers principals and superintendents are required by law to maintain certain records regarding pupils in their care a separate statute prohibits the release of personally identifiable student information except in certain specified circumstances.  The parent or guardian of a pupil or if the pupil is over eighteen the pupil himself may authorize the release of any information in student personnel records by giving his or her written consent.  Without such consent a school may release only “directory information” with regard to a particular pupil.  “Directory Information” includes a pupil’s name address telephone number date of birth place of birth major field of study dates of attendance date of graduation sports and activities participated in and in the case of athletic team members the height and weight of the pupil.  The administrative use of student records is not restricted.  On the other hand no personally identifiable information whatever may be released where a commercial use is intended.  Finally except for directory information any student information released may be released only on the condition that no third party is to receive such information without first obtaining the written consent of the parent or the student if he is over eighteen.
Student records are also subject to the provisions of federal law and regulations of the Department of Education.  The federal statute governing student records is much more extensive than the Ohio law and applies to any educational agency receiving federal funds.  Taken from “Anderson’s Ohio School Law Guide 2003-04 Vol. 1”
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