A October 16, 2017 Appellate Court ruling blocks access to “student records” by non-authorized persons without parental consent or a court order. This would appear to include matters of significant public concern.
John Paff wrote, “This sweeping decision appears to justify the complete suppression, at least initially, of all settlement agreements that resolve lawsuits filed by or against students…[T]axpayers will not be entitled to disclosure of even a heavily redacted version of the settlement agreement without first obtaining a court order.”
Further, it’s unclear if persons who sue to obtain such an order would be entitled to reimbursement of their attorney fees if they prevail. The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) includes such a mandate, known as fee-shifting, however “[t]he Appellate panel likened a lawsuit filed in accordance with its opinion to a common-law public records access case,” for which no fee-shifting mandate exists.
NJ Open Government Notes
Appellate Division exempts all “student records,” even those from which all student personal identifying information is redacted, from OPRA.
by John Paff
October 16, 2017
Appellate Division Significantly Expands Student Records Exemption
Commentary by firm Pashman Stein Walder Hayden PC
Oct. 23, 2017