On August 11, 2016, a Florida state court judge held that the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees (UCF) must produce budget request forms and activity and service fee database records to Knight News, Inc. (KNI) in response to KNI’s public records request. The records indicate the amount of money paid to each student for services rendered or for reimbursement of expenses incurred in his or her duties as a student government officer. Initially, UCF produced the records but redacted student names. UCF claimed that the students’ names were “educational records” and thus exempt from disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Florida law.
The court held that the requested records were subject to complete disclosure under Florida’s public records law because they did not fall within FERPA’s definition of educational records. Under FERPA, educational records must be kept in a central location or folder that a parent or student could easily request. UCF did not maintain these records in a manner contemplated by FERPA of educational records. If a student or parent requested a student’s educational records, the budget request forms and A&S fee database records would not be included in the production merely because the student’s name was listed on these documents. Accordingly, these documents were not educational records under FERPA or Florida’s public records law. Furthermore, the court held that members of the student government implicitly consented to the dissemination of this information under Florida law.