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violation of student privacy rights

Discussion in 'Other Legal Issues' started by joe_morahan, Feb 21, 2008.

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  1. joe_morahan

    joe_morahan Law Topic Starter New Member

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    A high school administrator in a dispute with a principal over unrelated matters and in hopes of discrediting the Principal downloads a student's confidential files, copies them and gives them to a reporter in an unmarked envelope alleging a records impropriety by the principal. The student is admittedly and without dispute innocent of any misconduct. The principal is found not to have been guilty of violating any federal state or local laws or even a school district policy, but the reporter airs a negative story and makes the stolen student records a part of the story, airing them on TV.

    While it is clear that the administrator is certainly guilty of theft, a crime, and exposed to potential tort liability for negligently exposing a student's confidential records without consent, and the school possibly responsible under FERPA for the unauthorized release of a student's records, my question is whether the news reporter and employer are potentially liable for violating the rights of the student by the improper disclosure of federally protected student files obtained from an administrator who the press new had illegally stolen the documents. I am not asking whether or not there is a winnable case, merely questioning whether the news service is exempt under the law for 'aiding and abetting' a crime? And would they be potentially liable under tort law, for throwing the student under the bus while they helped the administrator prosecute a personal vendetta against the Principal? Help asap!
     

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