Legal Q&A: Obtaining student records (Aug. 2018)

Q: Can I obtain student records from a local public school pursuant to a S.C. FOIA request?

Taylor Smith
By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith

A: It is very difficult to do so. “Scholastic records” are specifically omitted from the definition of a public record under S.C. Code Ann § 30-4-20(c). Furthermore, schools are prohibited from releasing student records under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), specifically 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g. FERPA though does provide a process for requesting records for students or their parents/lawful guardians. If a student’s family does not have the grade reports you are seeking, they can assist your investigation by making a FERPA request for the information.

Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.

Other recent columns