DTH Media Corp. v. FoltAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that officials of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (University) are required to release, as public records, disciplinary records of its students who have been found to have violated the University's sexual assault policy, holding that the University did not have discretion to withhold the information sought.
Plaintiffs, news organizations, brought this action for alleged violations of the North Carolina Public Records Act. Defendants argued that they were prohibited from complying with the Public Records Act in light of applicable provisions of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The trial court determined that Defendants were not required to produce the student records requested by Plaintiffs, concluding that the doctrines of field preemption and conflict preemption operated to implicitly preempt, by force of federal law, any required disclosure by the Public Records Act of the requested records. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the information sought in this case was authorized by and specified in the FERPA as subject to release; and (2) therefore, as an agency of the state, the University must comply with the Public Records Act and allow Plaintiff access to the information.