Miriam PearlmutterOhio House Bill 425, which took effect April 2019, exempts images of students captured on a resource officer’s body camera from disclosure in response to a public records request.

Some Peace Officers – including School Resource Officers (“SROs”) – wear body cameras, which occasionally capture images of children. The statute clarifies that images of children – and any information that could lead to identifying prominently featured children – do not have to be produced in response to a public records request. Under this law, even a parent’s consent does not authorize the release of these images in response to a public records request. Importantly, however, this statute does not affect school districts’ obligation to provide parents with educational records as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If a parent requests educational records, which include body camera images of their own child, the district is likely obligated to provide access to said footage following FERPA requirements.  This, of course, assumes that the video has been shared with the district. If the video was not shared with the district by the SRO (or the police department), it is not “maintained” by the district and cannot be an educational record under FERPA.

A person seeking public records which include such student images may ask the Ohio Court of Claims to consider whether the public interest outweighs the child’s privacy. If the court finds that the public interest in the recordings substantially outweigh student privacy interests, it will order the records released.

The new law also exempts school districts’ infrastructure records from mandatory disclosure. Specifically, the configuration of critical systems – ventilation, water, security codes, electrical, mechanical, communication, computer, or the infrastructure or structural configuration of a building – do not have to be produced in response to a public records request.   However, simple floor plans depicting only the spatial relationship of components of the building may be disclosed.

In light of HB 425, school districts may want to review and update policies and guidelines relating to public records.

Miriam Pearlmutter is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at mpearlmutter@walterhav.com or at 216-619-7861.

John Moenk is a law clerk with the Education Law group at Walter | Haverfield. He can be reached at jmoenk@walterhav.com or at 216-619-7884.

Megan GreulichL Burleson

As one of the few full-service law firms in Ohio with a dedicated education law practice, Walter | Haverfield is proudly adding two new attorneys to its team in the firm’s Columbus office. Both attorneys will serve an increasing client base of school districts in Central and Southern Ohio.

Lisa Burleson joins Walter | Haverfield as a partner after seven years working in education law. Previously, she led her own education law practice in Columbus, was associated as Of Counsel with two other law firms in Columbus and served as Deputy Director of Labor Relations for the Ohio School Boards Association. Burleson works closely with school districts as general counsel and provides various types of legal services including labor negotiations, labor relations, employment, special education, Title IX, student issues, litigation and Board governance issues.

“This move is a fantastic opportunity for my clients to have access to a broad support base with Walter | Haverfield’s Education Law group, and I’m excited to grow the firm’s Columbus practice,” said Burleson, who lives in Upper Arlington with her husband and two children. “I’m proud to be a part of such a distinguished firm and work with such talented education attorneys.”

Megan Greulich joins Walter | Haverfield as an associate. Previously, she worked at the Ohio School Boards Association in Columbus for nine years, most recently as a senior staff attorney. There, Greulich provided legal information, guidance and policy recommendations to boards of education, attorneys and administrators across the state via the association’s statewide legal hotline, presentations and publications.

“I’m thrilled to join such a reputable education law team,” said Greulich, who lives in Westerville with her husband and three children. “It gives me the chance to utilize my skills in new ways and continue to assist school districts, which is what I love.”

“Lisa and Megan bring a wealth of knowledge to our group,” said Christina Peer, head of Walter | Haverfield’s Education Law team. “Their assistance and counsel will give us an excellent opportunity to better serve school districts throughout the state. We are truly excited to have them on board.”

Burleson is very active as a volunteer in her community and her children’s school. She also serves on the Columbus Bar Association Admissions Committee.

Greulich currently serves as Chair of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Education Law Committee, is an Ohio State Bar Foundation Fellow and has volunteered with the Columbus Urban League, her children’s school and the Columbus City School District’s Reading Buddies program.

Both Burleson and Greulich are graduates of Capital University Law School and are members of the Ohio State Bar Association as well as the Columbus Bar Association.

Since 1932, Walter | Haverfield attorneys have served as strategic counselors to private businesses, public organizations and high-net-worth individuals, providing creative and customized solutions that deliver outstanding results at an exceptional value. Today, our team of nearly 80 attorneys is focused primarily in the areas of business services, real estate, intellectual property, labor and employment, education, tax and wealth management, hospitality and liquor control, litigation and public law.