JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The lawyer for fired Jefferson City School District educator Tammy Ferry argued Tuesday before the Missouri Supreme Court that Ferry had no ill intent in moving student files into her personal account.
Tammy Ferry, a former tenured instructional technology teacher with the Jefferson City School District, was fired from the district in 2019 after transferring thousands of documents onto her personal Google account. According to court documents, more than a thousand of the files contained students' personal information.
The school district suspended Ferry and later fired her in July 2019, stating that Ferry violated district policies and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The board said Ferry should not have had access to the files, according to court documents.
In March 2020, a Cole County judge upheld a lower court's ruling that Ferry's firing was unlawful and ordered the district to rehire her and give her back pay. The district challenged the ruling, sending it to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The courts ruled the issue in the case was whether Ferry shared the information with any third party. The courts said Ferry uploading the information to her personal account did not go against FERPA because it was not shared with any third parties.
Ferry's trial lawyer Dennis Egan argued Ferry had no ill intent when pulling the records.
"The purpose of FERPA is to avoid getting any private student information outside the educational circle, if you will, and Tammy Ferry never did that and never had any intention of doing that," Egan said.
J. Drew Marriott, the attorney representing Jefferson City Schools and the Board of Education, countered that regardless of whether Ferry shared the files with a third party, her actions were still against school policy.
"We don't have to have a third party disclosure, the district can create their own internal regulations that are more stringent than FERPA," Marriott said.
There is no timeline for when the court will rule in Ferry's case.