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FOIL-AO-16460

From: Robert Freeman
To:
Date: 2/14/2007 9:10:59 AM
Subject: Dear Ms. Sherman:

Dear

I have received your inquiry. In brief, I know of no law that deals with information that might appropriately be placed on a school district's website. With respect to photographs or names of students, the governing statute in my opinion is the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"; 20 USC §1232g). That statute provides parents of minor students right of access to personally identifiable information pertaining to their children. Concurrently, it prohibits an educational agency or institution from disclosing personally identifiable information pertaining to a student without the consent of a parent.

An exception under which disclosure might be authorized involves "directory information". The federal regulations promulgated pursuant to FERPA describe directory information as items such as names, addresses, dates of attendance, participation in sports, honors, awards, etc. Those items may be disclosed, but only after providing notification to parents of the intent to do so. Following receipt of the notification, parents may essentially veto the disclosure of any or all of those items pertaining to their children. To obtain more information on the subject, you can review advisory opinions accessible on our website. Click on to "advisory opinions". When you do so, the page to the right will change, and then you click onto "Freedom of Information Law." From there, you will see a page with the alphabet. In the search box above, enter "directory information", and you will be linked to several opinions dealing with the issue.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
NYS Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518 - Phone
(518) 474-1927 - Fax
Website - www.dos.ny.gov/coog/coogwww.html