TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Ron Dancer introduced a measure to strengthen student privacy. The bill (A5770) codifies a recent court decision prohibiting public access to student records, even if redacted.
“It is so important that we protect a student’s confidentiality and a taxpayer-supported school district from lawsuits that drive up costs,” said Dancer (R-Ocean).
In July, the state Supreme Court ruled that student records are confidential and not subject to disclosure under New Jersey’s Pupil Records Act (NJPRA) – even if they are redacted in accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and federal law. The court’s decision responded to litigation against four public school districts concerning OPRA requests for various student records. In one case, a parent of a child with special needs wanted the records of other special needs children for her dispute with the school over her child’s education.
“Schools should not be sued for ensuring that a student’s record stays with that student,” said Dancer.
Dancer’s bill expands the student records exemption under OPRA to prohibit access even if personal information is removed.
“OPRA was designed to ensure government transparency, not to be a tool for invading personal privacy,” said Dancer. “Student records are personal records and should not be available for public consumption.”
The law would apply to all public schools, including colleges and universities. Dancer’s bill was referred to the Assembly Education Committee.