From the Student Press Law Center
After Ohio State police reported three sexual assaults in one dorm this semester, The Lantern talked with police and student life officials about the assaults. Both offices declined to say whether disciplinary action had been taken by the school, citing FERPA and HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Source: The Lantern, 3 sex crimes reported in Park-Stradley this semester (Nov. 26, 2012).
SPLC Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein: When you have law enforcement and student life citing HIPAA as a reason to withhold information, you’re off to a bad start. HIPAA only applies to organizations primarily in the business of providing health care and certain types of billing companies they work with. In other words, HIPAA never applies to anything law enforcement or student life ever does, ever, at all. The fact that Ohio State officials would cite HIPAA here shows that not only don’t they intend to comply with open records law, they don’t even respect The Lantern enough to come up with a coherent lie to hide behind.
It’s not that surprising, then, that their FERPA explanation is completely bogus, too. The Lantern’s request wasn’t even for a record, let alone a record that would make a student identifiable. At worst, it was a request for information that might suggest the existence of unspecified records about unidentified individuals who may or may not even be students.