E-mail failure-to-bcc error exposes U. Alabama students’ failing grades to each other

Taylor Holland reports:

Students who had at least one failing midterm grade during the Fall 2011 semester received an email on Oct. 26 from the office of Lowell Davis, the assistant dean of students, notifying them of their grade and potential ways to improve it.

Students who received the email were not blind copied in it, however, and were able to see the email addresses of other failing students.


Adam Goldstein, an attorney advocate with the Student Press Law Center, said if the mass email was an accident, it might not be a violation of FERPA.

“There’s one thing that makes this not a FERPA violation,” Goldstein said. “FERPA doesn’t prevent disclosure [of educational information]. It prevents a policy or practice of doing it.”

However, Goldstein said students do have common law or state-based law privacy rights. Public disclosure of private or embarrassing facts could violate those rights, but it might be hard for students to show they were damaged by the release of this information, Goldstein said.
“Everyone generally recognizes you have a right to privacy in your grades,” he said. “It’s another reason why FERPA is kind of a joke. It doesn’t prevent incidents like this. You can never be stupid enough to violate FERPA.”

Read more on The Crimson White.

About the author: Dissent

4 comments to “E-mail failure-to-bcc error exposes U. Alabama students’ failing grades to each other”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.
  1. Bill - November 3, 2011

    Dr davis is the same administrator, reported by the cw, who took an unapproved community service team to Pasadena during the bcd national championship and his expenses were paid for by the university. Why does the university administration continue forgive his mistakes.

    • admin - November 4, 2011

      What is somewhat stunning to me is that I am not seeing mainstream media coverage of this breach. If the student newspaper hadn’t reported it, I wouldn’t have known about it to cover it here.

  2. WILLIAM F - November 4, 2011

    If some say Mr Davis just made a mistake and should be forgiven, the same should apply to the students. After all they didn’t mean to fail, they just made a mistake. Give all of them an A or at least a passing grade.

  3. RachaelK - November 4, 2011

    As a parent this concerns me. professor Davis should be dealt with

Comments are closed.