City to Obtain Legal Advice About Student Records

School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Haverhill School Committee members want more information about their responsibilities to protect confidential student information after an apparent breach came to light.

After a contentious back-and-forth between School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti and Superintendent James F. Scully, members agreed to ask City Solicitor William D. Cox to brief the committee about how student records should be treated and under what circumstances information may be released. The school department’s responsibilities are detailed in the 1974 federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and similar state regulations. Magliocchetti said Scully should be briefing members, but the superintendent said the committee should rely on a legal expert.

“Once again, we are using parents and students as pawns in the discussion,” said Committeeman Joseph J. Bevilacqua.

Magliocchetti revealed a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education about the naming of two Haverhill High School students and their class rankings. He did not say where the names were listed, but said the school committee became aware of the complaint March 6. He said the release of names was neither authorized by students nor their parents. He said he also received an email just before the meeting suggesting parents had been denied access to their child’s a disciplinary report.

Scully said the FERPA complaint is being reviewed—not investigated—and there is currently no role for the state attorney general’s office.