We recently noted that an investigative report in The Des Moines Register by Clark Kauffman indicated that the University of Iowa shared students’ private information with the sheriff’s office when gun permits were sought.
In an update to the story posted by Katherine Timpf in Campus Reform, the school now indicates it is going to stop this practice.
University of Iowa (UI) officials announced on Thursday that the school will halt its practice of sending student information — such as details on classroom performance — to the local law enforcement agency that handles gun permits.
Administrators at the University of Iowa disclosed private information to Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.
Emails exchanged between UI administrators and Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, published in The Des Moines Register Thursday, revealed that administrators regularly released information on “academic failures and disciplinary issues” for students who applied for permits to purchase or carry weapons.
Such disclosures are possibly illegal under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which dictates what information law enforcement agencies may legally consider when processing permit-to-carry applications.
UI officials announced on Thursday that they will consult with the U.S. Department of Education about the legality of the policy, according to an article published Thursday in The Gazette.
Sheriff Pulkrabek denied a request for an interview, but sent Campus Reform an op-ed he penned on the subject that was published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Friday. In it, he admitted ignorance of the federal law.
“As the Sheriff, I do not pretend to be familiar with or an authority on the FERPA guidelines,” he wrote.
FERPA prohibits the disclosure of education records unless the student signs a waiver detailing exactly which type of documents are being released. The application for gun permits does include a privacy waiver, a copy of which Pulkrabek includes with his op-ed. The waiver does not include any mention of education records.
Ryan Edwards, a senior at IU, told Campus Reform on Friday that while he supports the school releasing some information about disciplinary issues involving violence, he does not believe it had the right to release information about grades.
Public university released students’ private records to local sheriff (Campus Reform)