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Student privacy an issue

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College officials say under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, they cannot notify parents of concerns about a student's drinking.

By contrast, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, called FERPA, permits colleges to notify parents if a student under 21 has violated any law or the institution's drug and alcohol policy.

A bill likely will be introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this year to align Minnesota's law more closely with the federal law, to permit parental notification.

Bemidji State University's Lifestyle Educators program trains students to help their peers make responsible choices about alcohol and other risky behavior issues.

Sharon Gritzmacher, a professor at Bemidji State University, talks with MPR's Stephanie Hemphill about her concerns over student drinking, and her frustration with restrictions on notifying parents of at-risk students.