U Memo 15-14

Posted on Jun 30, 2015 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 15-14
June 30, 2015
Comprehensive Personal Record Request

Starting in 2010, Requester made several record requests to different offices at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH) for her personal records. Because requester was not satisfied with some of UH’s responses, she eventually made an “umbrella” request for all information maintained by UH regarding an incident she was involved in while she was a UH student. She thereafter appealed UH’s responses.

OIP first found that UH’s responses to Requester’s record requests did not comply with the UIPA because, for information being denied, UH did not specify what was being denied or the statutory basis for each denial.

UH asserted that some of the requested records do not exist. Based on UH’s description of the searches it conducted for records, OIP found UH’s search was made in good faith and that another search would not likely locate additional responsive records. UH also asserted that it already provided copies of some of the requested records. For records that UH asserts were already provided to Requester, but which she states she did not receive, OIP recommended UH provide another copy at no charge.

UH is subject to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232G; and 34 CFR Part 99, which, if not complied with, would put its federal funding in jeopardy. Regardless of how the requested records might otherwise be treated under the UIPA, section 92F-4, HRS, states
“[w]here compliance with any provision of this chapter would cause an agency to lose or be denied funding, services, or other assistance from the federal government, compliance with that provision shall be waived but only to the extent necessary to protect eligibility for federal funding, services, or other assistance.” Based on OIP’s in camera review and on advice from the federal Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office which administers FERPA, OIP found that portions of the responsive records were Requester’s education record under FERPA, or the joint education record of Requester and another student under FERPA, or in some instances, only the education record of one or more other students under FERPA. Requester is entitled only to those portions about her and about her and another student jointly. Portions solely about other students should be redacted prior to disclosure under FERPA, and may be redacted prior to disclosure under the UIPA.

Redactions made to the documents sent to Requester in 2010 and 2011 were not in compliance with OIP’s administrative rules as portions were improperly “whited out” instead of being obviously “blacked out.” OIP advised UH to re-redact those records (with the exception of one) and provide copies to Requester.