TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Public school districts may use certain photos and videos of students without written parental consent, as long as parents had been told that such materials were considered "directory information" and were given the chance to deny permission, according to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

In a recent opinion, Cox wrote that such material may be considered "directory information" under federal privacy laws, the Record-Eagle reported. Some districts use student images in television advertisements, brochures or at school Web sites, according to the Record-Eagle.

Districts are only responsible for use of photographs or videos that they maintain themselves, the opinion states, according to the Record-Eagle. The opinion says that "maintain" means that the school district keeps or preserves the material.

Administrators told the Record-Eagle that they had questions about cases in which school-affiliated groups, such as parent- teacher organizations, used student photos at social networking sites such as Facebook. They also questioned if schools had any responsibility in cases when parents or visitors filmed a school event and posted it on a Web site not affiliated with schools.

SOURCES:
Traverse City Record-Eagle, "A.G. opinion impacts students' images," April 6, 2010

State of Michigan, Attorney General Mike Cox, "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Opinion No. 7425, March 29, 2010"

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act," Sept. 13, 2000

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