Appeals Court Asks for Briefs in U of I Lawsuit

September 30, 2011

The University of Illinois has argued in federal court that student records should remain protected under federal privacy laws.

Friday's hearing before a three-judge panel in Chicago stems from the 2009 admissions scandal at the U of I. The Chicago Tribune investigated the so-called 'Category I' list of well-connected students who were admitted over more qualified ones. The newspaper sought the names as part of its coverage and sued after the university refused.

U of I attorney Sam Skinner said both the university and Tribune want an expeditious decision by an appellate court regarding student records, including their names and addresses, as well as those of their parents. At issue is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Skinner contends not complying would jeopardize federal grants and financial aid.

"We believe that we need to know from a federal court that we're not violating federal law before we disclose it and putting federal funds in jeopardy," he said. "And I think we're going to take some additional briefs, but this matter will eventually wind up in federal court because it's an interpretation of federal law as it relates to federal funding."

Both sides have two weeks to file those additional briefs to explain why the case should be heard in federal court rather than state court. Skinner said he expects a decision in the next few months.

Story source: WILL