U.S. Supreme Court Denies Krakauer Access to UM Student Records
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied author Jon Krakauer access to student records he had sought for over a decade that he wanted to support his book ‘Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.’
The Associated Press reports that Krakauer had requested the records of then-starting quarterback for the University of Montana Jordan Johnson, who had been accused of rape. Johnson was tried and acquitted, however Krakauer continued to pursue the student records.
Now, that door has closed due to Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Karen Ogden, Director of Communications for the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, spoke with KGVO News after the decision was handed down in Washington, D.C.
“The Montana University System’s management of student records in this case was based on a careful balancing act,” said Ogden. “We had to weigh Montana’s open records laws with our legal obligation to students’ educational records. The Montana Supreme Court ruled twice that our decision to hold the records was correct, and that decision has now been reinforced by the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case.”
Ogden said the basic issue is student privacy.
“What this decision today goes back to is student privacy,” she said. “It’s about defending all students’ rights and the privacy of their educational records. This particular case is not about safety or violence, it’s actually about access to student records and that’s what the Supreme Court refusal to hear the case was really about.”
The Montana University System used a federal law called the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to claim that releasing student records could result in the loss of federal education funding.
The Associated Press said Krakauer will now pursue federal legislation that would end FERPA.