Kryston v. Board of Education, 77 A.D.2d 896, 430 N.Y.S.2d 688 (2d Dep't 1980) was a 1980 New York case which granted access to standardized test scores with the student names deleted and the scores scrambled to protect student privacy.
The court case effectively ruled that the petitioner, asking for test grades for students in grade 3 was entitled to the test grades with the names redacted. The district argued that the information could still be "personally identifiable" (prohibited under FERPA)because the names were in alphabetical order. The Court ruled that the district must scramble the test grades so they are no longer in alphabetical order and that this would not be considered creating a new record.
Ruling of the court
"The petitioner, a parent of a student in the respondent school district, seeks disclosure of certain standardized reading an mathematics test scores of children who attended grade 3 in the El Dorado School during 1977-1978 school year. Specifically, the petitioner expressed an interest in the scores of six tests. Of these, the scores on four were tabulated and recorded alphabetically by student surname. The remaining test scores were not compiled in alphabetical order.
"When respondents refused to release any of the scores, the petitioner instituted a proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78, inter alias, to compel disclosure. The court granted the petition in part by directing, inter alia, that the respondents release those scores not compiled in alphabetical order after first deleting the names of the students."
The lower court, however, determined to uphold the denial as it involved records that contained names listed alphabetically because some students, particularly those whose names are at the beginning and the end of the alphabet, might be identified, even if names were deleted. Nevertheless, the Appellate Division ordered a "rearranging or 'scrambling' the test scores so as to change the order in which they are listed" (id., 689), stating that:
"Disclosure of the test scores here, in a 'scrambled' order and with names deleted, would protect the privacy of the students, provide the petitioner with the records she seeks, and impose no onerous burden upon the agency. It would, therefore, be fully consistent with the policy considerations and objectives underlying the Freedom of Information Law as well as appropriate Federal statutes" (id., 690).