- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas has cited the protection of student identity and privacy for the heavy redaction of documents regarding two fraternities placed on probation for hazing.

The fraternities were disciplined after investigations in the fall of 2014 and early 2015 by the school, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1kiwHGF ) reported. Information in documents provided to the newspaper about Delta Tau Delta and Phi Beta Sigma was redacted, including the nature of the hazing.

Delta Tau Delta was placed on probation March 9 and will be on it through Jan. 1, 2017, and Phi Beta Sigma was placed on probation on May 7 for two years.

University spokesman Joe Monaco told the newspaper that under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the school is only allowed to release student information without the student’s consent after removing identifiable information. The university also said that releasing the documents without redactions would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy under the Kansas Open Records Act.

One of the fraternities had less than 10 members, Monaco said, so any information about the incidents could be identifiable by anyone who knows a fraternity member.

“The other fraternity involved events that happened to all members of a particular pledge class, meaning any details of those events can be identifiable to anyone who knows a member of that class - and many people on campus do,” Monaco said.

Fraternity representatives from the national headquarters declined to comment on what led to the discipline.

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act only applies to individually identifiable student education records.

“In cases that involve discipline, we frequently hear FERPA invoked whether or not that statute genuinely applies,” LoMonte said.

He added that penalties imposed on groups almost never qualify as FERPA records because they are not part of a student’s education record.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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