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ERIC Number: EJ771021
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun-22
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Report on Virginia Tech Shootings Urges Clarification of Privacy Laws
Fischer, Karin
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n42 pA30 Jun 2007
Educators, mental-health officials, and law-enforcement officers often do not share information about troubled students because they are confused by what they can disclose under complex and overlapping privacy laws, according to a report on the Virginia Tech shootings. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and two other Bush cabinet secretaries worked on the report. The "Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy" called on the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to issue guidelines clarifying how colleges, police departments, and social-service agencies can share information legally under current federal laws governing student records. The federal agencies should study whether the laws should be changed to balance students' privacy with safety concerns, the report said. A chief finding of the presidential report is that restrictions on information sharing pose a significant hurdle to identifying potential threats on campus. The report said it is the differing interpretations of federal law that must be clarified. The laws have exemptions for health and safety, but the report found that campus, law-enforcement, and mental-health officials have "differing interpretations and confusion about legal restrictions." Among other recommendations, the report said state and federal agencies should do a better job at ensuring data is entered into the federal database used to approve gun purchases. Just 23 states, including Virginia, currently provide any information about people disqualified from possessing firearms for mental-health reasons. The report says the federal government should encourage states to provide additional information but did not propose any specific changes in federal gun laws.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - General
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974