Principal dragging video not protected under FERPA

dicksonHARTFORD – The  Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, acting on the recommendation of a hearing officer, unanimously decided that videos showing Carmen Perez Dickson, a former principal at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport, were not exempt from disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA.)

 The videos were key evidence used in determining that board and district policies had been violated by Dickson. She was suspended, not fired, but retired shortly after returning from her unpaid suspensions.

The videos were subsequently released to one of the parents involved in the incident who then released it to the media. Hearst Media, which had filed a Freedom of Information complaint to obtain the videos followed through with the claim that the videos were not exempt from disclosure. The commission determined that the students were impossible to identify and that the focus of the videos was the principal, not the students. It’s a strong statement that video showing students is not automatically FERPA protected, according to Diego Ibarguen, an attorney for Hearst Corporation.

The school board has 45 days from the issuance of the decision to appeal.

Linda Lambeck