FERPA law allegedly violated in BC Associated Student Government

On Jan. 9 2019, ASG Legislative Affairs Representative Saghar Rasoulamini went before the Board of Trustees to express issues regarding leadership, workflow and subsequent gridlock in the Associated Student Government. While sharing her testimony of the climate in ASG, Rasoulamini resigned from her position.

Rasoulamini specifically alleged that Michael Kaptik, the interim associate vice president of Student Programs, neglected to take action on potential violations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that occurred.

The Bellevue College website describes FERPA as, “a federal law that protects the privacy of student information and education records. Except as permitted or required by law, the college does not release [student] information or education records without written consent.”

Rasoulamini informed the board that while she was working, she was presented with a file full of information on four students, one being herself, by another student.

The file was filled with information that is strictly protected by FERPA law, and “not only [had] the supervisor failed to protect those information in the first place, Michael failed to prevent it from ever happening again.”

Rasoulamini continued, displaying a screenshot of an email she sent to Kaptik informing him of the violation. Kaptik signed a notice acknowledging his awareness of the FERPA violation, which was brought to his attention by Rasoulamini on the day it was discovered.

After addressing this information with the board, Rasoulamini stated that even though she “sent another email to him to follow up, to which he did not respond, until I was given another file with information protected by FERPA law.” Another violation had occurred.

“These files included transcripts, resumes, cover letters, full applications, and full student information.” Rasoulamini said that Kaptik promised to take corrective action, though that promise came two months after the first incident. She further informed the board that, “To this day, the student programs has not been swept and nobody has been provided by any guidelines in which how to protect these information.”

When asked to comment on the allegation, Kaptik requested that, “any questions regarding this matter [be sent] to Nicole Beattie in Institutional Advancement.”

Nicole Beattie in Institutional Advancement stated that, “We appreciate it when students bring concerns to our attention, and encourage them to act as advocates if they see areas for improvement. In this situation, as a result of a concern being voiced, staff re-examined processes and implemented changes to address it. Student input is critical in helping us understand how we can better serve our community, and we offer an online reporting system so that anyone can submit a comment, or concern.”

LaMeisha Reese-Taylor, the leadership advisor in Student Programs, said that she was “unaware that Michael Kaptik took action that violates FERPA law.”

At the board meeting on Jan. 9, after Rasoulamini’s testimony, the trustees present deferred the situation to be handled by President Jerry Weber. He was not readily available for comment on how the allegations were to be addressed.

The Watchdog will continue to report on these allegations as they develop.