Monday, May 24, 2010

Judge (De)Grades Paper on College Prez Critique

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The Associted Press reports that a Laramie County District Court Judge has enjoined The Wyoming Tribune Eagle from publishing an article critical of Laramie County Community College President Darrel Hammon.

After its request to the college for a copy of a report that surfaced at an employee hearing was rejected, the Tribune Eagle obtained the report from an unnamed source that purportedly concerns a 2008 school-sponsored trip to Costa Rica in which Hammon served as a chaperone.

District Court Judge Peter Arnold apparently was swayed by attorneys for the college who sought an injunction against publication of the story by the Tribune Eagle on grounds that  it would violate the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)[20 U.S.C. sec. 1232g].

Counsel for the newspaper has raised the possibility of publishing an article about the report, but removing the names of any students, to satisfy the intent of FERPA, which is meant to protect the privacy of students regarding matters, such as disclosing grades. It is not intended, however, to shield college employees and administrators from the consequences of possible misconduct, and Judge Arnold's order ultimately may run afoul of the First Amendment.

UPDATE  (5/26/10):   Judge Peter Arnold dissolved his injunction, freeing the college paper to report on President Hammon's Costa Rica adventure. The Court rejected the college's position that federal funding could be lost if the information became public.    

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