Justice Dept. and Colleges Back Illinois FERPA Appeal

July 21, 2011

The U.S. Justice Department and nine college associations have filed briefs backing the University of Illinois in its attempt to overturn a judge's ruling that documents requested by The Chicago Tribune are not covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The Tribune requested the documents -- which deal with applicants' grades, test scores and parents -- as part of an inquiry into the university system's pattern (since abandoned) of favoring politically connected applicants in admissions. The ruling that Illinois is appealing left open the possibility that various privacy provisions might block the release of some records, but college associations are backing the University of Illinois appeal, which states that the ruling leaves public colleges open to pressure to release extensive information about students, possibly in violation of FERPA. The brief on behalf of college associations was filed by the American Council on Education.

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