Court Rules Against Student Newspaper Seeking Footage from District

Court Rules Against Student Newspaper Seeking Footage from District Photo: KSTP

October 10, 2017 03:28 PM

A Hennepin County district court judge has ruled security camera footage of a male student at St. Louis Park High School allegedly ripping a hijab off a female student in November of last year is protected educational data, and that the school district does not have to release it to a student newspaper.

The suit was filed in January.

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The Echo, the student newspaper at the high school, had sued the school district and superintendent Robert Metz requesting access to the footage, arguing it was important to news coverage.

The Echo has covered the incident extensively, for which it has earned national awards.

The incident occurred on Nov. 14 of last year. Because there was no cell phone footage of the alleged incident, nor any eyewitnesses coming forward other than friends of the alleged victim, the Echo requested video captured on the school's security cameras.

The newspaper also submitted a data request for "all emails between administrative workers relating to and concerning the November 14 incident in which a student allegedly pulled off a student's hijab and the emails related to and concerning the investigation of the incident."

Court documents say the school provided redacted versions of those emails.

In the case of the security video, the school district argued it should be classified as nonpublic because of an exception to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act that defines educational data as "data on individuals maintained by a public educational agency or institution by a person acting for the agency or institution which relates to a student."

That data can be classified as nonpublic, the court said.

The court ruled the footage met that definition, and that state and federal policies for protecting the privacy of children support not making an exception by releasing the footage.

"While the student committed a heinous and xenophobic act," the ruling's conclusion read. "The Court will not be tempted to right the wrong committed by that student by wrongly allowing access to this nonpublic footage."

Credits

Frank Rajkowski

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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