UMass Dartmouth Requests Permission From U.S. to Release Student Records

Chancellor Grossman to establish independent task force to review policies and procedures

May 03, 2013, 16:11 ET from UMass Dartmouth

DARTMOUTH, Mass., May 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- UMass Dartmouth has asked federal education officials guidance on how it can legally release student records in response to inquiries by the media and general public regarding the arrest of four current or former students in connection with the Boston Marathon tragedy.

There have been multiple requests for records associated with the four students. Federal law prohibits the release of student records to the public without student consent. UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman today asked the U.S. Department of Education, which monitors Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws governing the privacy of student records, whether an exception could be made in this case.

Chancellor Divina Grossman has also begun a policy and procedures review in the wake of recent events. An independent task force will be established to conduct the review, covering student financial and academic requirements, public safety and international policies.

The University has fully cooperated with the FBI and other law enforcement officials, and it has provided every document and resource necessary to assist in their investigation. The Boston Office of the FBI last week authorized the University to release this statement from the FBI to the UMass Dartmouth Department of Public Safety: "Protecting the public from harm is our first obligation ...The FBI greatly appreciates the actions taken by your administration and campus police department to ensure the safety of the students, faculty, staff and the neighboring community."

"The Boston Marathon tragedy of April 15 has had a profound impact on this campus, and the sense of loss remains with us," Chancellor Grossman said. "The University has been challenged by these events and has demonstrated its ability to keep our community safe and focused on teaching and learning under the most difficult circumstances. I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff for supporting each other as we approach the end of the academic year."

"Still, we recognize our obligation to be good stewards of public resources. It is important that we do all that we can to learn from this experience by being honest with ourselves and as transparent as possible under the law."

In addition to the review of student academic and financial policies, Chancellor Grossman has ordered a 360 degree review of all facets of the public safety and operational response related to the campus evacuation and ensuing investigation.

"While we have received highly positive feedback for our public safety response to this unprecedented challenge, we still owe it to our campus community, the Commonwealth, and our peers around the country to complete a full assessment that will further educate all of us about dealing with such crises, which could happen on any campus, and in any neighborhood in America."

John T. Hoey 

SOURCE UMass Dartmouth