Ferguson-Florissant School District admits improper release of educational records

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(KTVI)-- The Ferguson-Florissant School District admits a major infraction involving the privacy and educational rights of students.  It`s in a letter obtained by Fox 2, that may also provide clues about the resignation of Dr. Art McCoy.  According to the letter, Dr. McCoy gave his private credentials to someone who`s not an employee, so the person could access an internal computer system with students educational records, assessments and behavior reports.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District hired an outside attorney to send the letter to the U.S. Department of Education.  It`s a `self-report` of a `violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.`  The letter states that Dr. Art McCoy gave `former board member, Jim Clark` District access credentials.

By phone, Clark called it a moot issue, saying he accessed the school I.T. system to get meeting minutes. I asked, "Did you access private student records?" He said, "I don`t think so."  I then asked, "Did you make any changes?" and he responded, "No."

Former Board Member Charles Henson said he`s never heard about any non-employee having such access, but he doesn`t buy the seriousness.  Henson said, "To me that sounds like it`s kind of a witch hunt."

Henson questions the timing of the letter, which was drafted November 22, 2013.

Henson explained, "If you recall, you go back and look at the notes and things, his release was a change or difference in philosophy which for some unknown reason, it escalated to a statement of charges after the public came out in strong opposition.  So to me that shows they really went fishing for something and that`s what they came up with."

Henson also questions the amount of money he says the district has spent on private lawyers.  He said, "I hope the public realizes how much money they have spent, over $45,000 someone has speculated or more, and the District is already strapped for cash, to look at moving one of the best administrators in the State of Missouri."

The District is working on compiling what it spent on attorney`s fees.  It can report spending $8,000 on a third party investigation - a report that is `sealed.`  Jim Clark called me back later to clarify and say he never accessed private student records.  Dr. Art McCoy, did not respond to my e-mail or phone call.

A violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act can result in a district losing some or all of its federal funding.

District report of improper release of educational records

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