|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 23, 1999
Mr. James Hindman
Dear Mr. Hindman:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 122939.
Angelo State University (the "university") received a request for "any affidavits or statements you used in your decision to investigate [hazing] allegations." You claim that the requested information is excepted from public disclosure by sections 552.108 and 552.114 of the Government Code and common-law privacy. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 ("FERPA") provides that no federal funds will be made available under any applicable program to an educational agency or institution that releases personally identifiable information (other than directory information) contained in a student's education records to anyone but certain enumerated federal, state, and local officials and institutions, unless otherwise authorized by the student's parent. See 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1). "Education records" means those records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution. Id. § 1232g(a)(4)(A). This office generally applies the same analysis under section 552.114 and FERPA. Open Records Decision No. 539 (1990).
Section 552.114 excepts from disclosure student records at an educational institution funded completely or in part by state revenue. Section 552.026 provides as follows:
This chapter does not require the release of information contained in education records of an educational agency or institution, except in conformity with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Sec. 513, Pub. L. No. 93-380, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g.
In Open Records Decision No. 634 (1995), this office concluded that (1) an educational agency or institution may withhold from public disclosure information that is protected by FERPA and excepted from required public disclosure by sections 552.026 and 552.101 without the necessity of requesting an attorney general decision as to those exceptions, and (2) an educational agency or institution that is state-funded may withhold from public disclosure information that is excepted from required public disclosure by section 552.114
as a "student record," insofar as the "student record" is protected by FERPA, without the necessity of requesting an attorney general decision as to that exception.
Information must be withheld from required public disclosure under FERPA only to the extent "reasonable and necessary to avoid personally identifying a particular student." See Open Records Decision Nos. 332 (1982), 206 (1978). We have marked the information that must be withheld pursuant to FERPA as it is identifying information that may reveal or tend to reveal information about the student.(1)
You also assert that section 552.108 excepts the requested information from public disclosure. Section 552.108 excepts from public disclosure information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. You explain that the alleged hazing "is under investigation by the Dean of Student Life's Office, which has enlisted the assistance of the University Police Department." The Dean of Student Life's Office is not a law enforcement agency. Additionally, you have not indicated that the investigation involves a criminal matter. Thus, because section 552.108 is inapplicable, you may not withhold the requested information under section 552.108.
We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
Ref.: ID# 122939
Enclosures: Marked documents
cc: Mr. Charles J. Hughes
1. Because we have redacted the student's name and other identifying information under FERPA, we need
not address your privacy claims.
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US