“Unfortunately due to this being a student discipline issue, we are not able to comment specifically regarding this student.”
Homewood-Flossmoor High School released that statement after inquiries asking why senior Taiylar Ball was not allowed to attend prom on Saturday.
The district did elaborate some on Ball’s use of language that was not sanctioned for a senior talent show, but officials won’t comment further on the incident or its actions because of restrictions under the Illinois Student Records Act.
The law specifies the limits of “the release of individually identifiable student information, except for very specific circumstances.”
Professor Miranda Johnson, associate director of the Education Law & Policy Institute at Loyola University-Chicago School of Law, said the Illinois law covers elementary and high schools.
“Generally when schools make statements like that they’re referring to what’s in the law, as well as what’s in their own school policies,” she explained.
The Illinois law is meant to ensure a student’s privacy, Johnson noted. A school’s disciplinary decisions become part of the student’s record and are shared with the student’s parents and the student. It is only in rare cases that the actions are made public.
“A school student record is any writing or recorded information concerning a student and by which a student may be individually identified,” the professor said.
According to the statute, the Illinois Student Records Act defines two types of student records: permanent records containing the minimum personal information necessary to a school such as the student’s name, birthdate and parents’ names, and a temporary record that includes school discipline information, test scores, teacher evaluations and other information “of clear relevance to the education of the student.”
Johnson said it is not in a student’s or the family’s best interest to have the records released “if they can be individually identifiable through the information about the student.”
“For the most part, unless the family has signed a release the school would be unwilling to disclose any information that’s not publicly available,” she added.
Information cannot be released to third parties without the consent of the parent or student if a student is 18 or older.
“Because of that there are very limited circumstances in which the school can release information on an individually identifiable student,” she said.
Most schools have the student handbook available online making it easy to find out school policy information.
Johnson said there may be other information apart from what’s already in the media that H-F would be limited from disclosing.