Kendrick v. The Advertiser CompanyAnnotate this Case
Kevin Kendrick, as director of compliance at Alabama State University (ASU), appealed the grant of summary judgment ordering him to provide The Advertiser Company d/b/a The Montgomery Advertiser ("the Advertiser") with redacted copies of each "request for reduction/cancellation of athletic financial aid" form submitted to the director involving the ASU football program since December 15, 2014. A reporter for the Advertiser initially sent a written request for the forms to the school's media relations director spoke. The media relations director to the reporter by telephone, advising the reporter that because the forms contained sensitive personal student information, the forms would be heavily redacted. The reporter emailed the media relations director stating that he would "take just the list of names of players whose scholarships have been revoked since December ." Later that day, the media relations director, under advice of university counsel, informed the reporter he could not even provide a list of names, citing privacy concerns under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Legal counsel for the Advertiser and legal counsel for ASU exchanged correspondence regarding whether the financial aid forms were subject to disclosure. When the parties could not agree, the Advertiser filed a declaratory judgment suit and petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the records' disclosure. The Supreme Court, after review, reversed and remanded the grant of summary judgment: "We commend the trial court for its efforts to comply with both FERPA and the Open Records Act by requiring ASU to redact the requested financial-aid forms in the manner it directed. However, the release of the redacted financial-aid forms to the Advertiser would nonetheless disclose information that is protected by FERPA, and the Advertiser did not argue that the release of the redacted financial-aid forms is authorized by any other exception in FERPA. Because FERPA prohibits the very release of the redacted financial-aid forms and because FERPA takes precedence over the Open Records Act, the director is entitled to a summary judgment."