Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 15 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 273 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

With this principle in mind, there is no question that FERPA's nondisclosure provisions fail to confer enforceable rights. To begin with, the provisions entirely lack the sort of "rights-creating" language critical to showing the requisite congressional intent to create new rights. Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S., at 288-289; Cannon, 441 U. S., at 690, n. 13. Unlike the individually focused terminology of Titles VI and IX ("No person . . . shall . . . be subjected to discrimination"), FERPA's provisions speak only to the Secretary of Education, directing that "[n]o funds shall be made available" to any "educational agency or institution" which has a prohibited "policy or practice." 20 U. S. C. 1232g(b)(1). This focus is two steps removed from the interests of individual students and parents and clearly does not confer the sort of "individual entitlement" that is enforceable under 1983. Blessing, 520 U. S., at 343 (emphasis in original). As we said in Cannon:

"There would be far less reason to infer a private remedy in favor of individual persons if Congress, instead of drafting Title IX with an unmistakable focus on the benefited class, had written it simply as a ban on discriminatory conduct by recipients of federal funds or as a prohibition against the disbursement of public funds to educational institutions engaged in discriminatory practices." 441 U. S., at 690-693.

See also Alexander v. Sandoval, supra, at 289 ("Statutes that focus on the person regulated rather than the individuals protected create 'no implication of an intent to confer rights on a particular class of persons' " (quoting California v. Sierra Club, supra, at 294)).

interpretation of FERPA because "[w]e doubt Congress meant to intervene in this drastic fashion with traditional state functions"); Regents of Univ. of Mich. v. Ewing, 474 U. S. 214, 226 (1985) (noting tradition of "reluctance to trench on the prerogatives of state and local educational institutions"), by subjecting them to private suits for money damages whenever they fail to comply with a federal funding condition.


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