May 15, 2014


The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.  The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.


This is in follow up to the advisory opinion issued on April 11, 2014, and Mr. Lambert’s correspondence regarding same, received on April 18, 2014. 

This office is authorized to interpret application of the Freedom of Information Law to records of state and local government agencies in New York.  In that regard, we stand by the opinion issued to Mr. Buchanan.

The Family Policy Compliance Office is responsible for implementing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal act that makes “education records” confidential except to the parents of the student or in some cases the student.  To the extent that the FPCO has issued a determination that video records of students being transported to and from school on a school bus are “education records” and therefore, prohibited from being disclosed to anyone other than a parent, we defer to such interpretation.

Although it is difficult to understand the basis for a law that would prohibit access by a bus driver to a tape recording of events that occurred in the presence of the bus driver, to the extent that there is a federal law that prohibits access to such record, as interpreted by the FPCO, in our opinion the District’s denial of access to Mr. Buchanan appears to have been appropriate.

We hope this is helpful.

Camille S. Jobin-Davis
Assistant Director