The Department’s email stems from a federal lawsuit regarding special education funding.  As general background, Disability Rights Ohio filed a federal class action lawsuit against the State of Ohio on behalf of all students with disabilities enrolled in or seeking to enroll in Ohio public schools.  The lawsuit, which has been pending in some form for nearly ten years, alleges that inadequacies of Ohio’s special education funding system have resulted in systematic denials of a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities and discriminate against such students.  Chief among the complaint’s allegations are that the state’s funding amounts for providing services to students with disabilities are arbitrary and insufficient, are not appropriately updated based on increasing costs, and are not based on true assessments of the cost of providing required services. 


As part of this lawsuit, Disability Rights Ohio filed a subpoena requesting student data maintained by the Department in EMIS.  Student names, addresses, and social security numbers are not subject to this request.  However, federal law protects other forms of personally identifiable information that are maintained in EMIS and sought via the subpoena (e.g., student identifying numbers; demographic information, such as school, grade, gender, race, age, and disability category; attendance statistics; information on suspensions and expulsions; and results on state tests such as the Ohio Graduation Tests, the Ohio Achievement Assessments, and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee).  Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), entities that maintain personally identifiable student information must notify parents that such information is subject to a subpoena and provide them with an opportunity to object to the release of their child’s information. 



Court Notice to Parents

Ohio Department of Education letter concerning student information