GU takes BZA to District court

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September 6, 2001

On Wednesday, Georgetown notified the District of Columbia Court of Appeals of its intent to appeal the conditions the Board of Zoning Adjustment placed on the University’s construction plans. The notification was filed the day after the BZA refused to grant a request that would delay putting the conditions into effect.

Once the BZA finalized the list of 19 conditions necessary to maintain its approval on the University’s construction plans, Georgetown had until 5 p.m. on Sept. 5 to notify a court of intent to appeal the BZA’s decision.

The BZA decided Tuesday to refuse Georgetown’s request for postponement on three of the 19 conditions. The BZA has unlimited time to submit a written explanation of the refusal to the University.

Georgetown administrators claim the three questionable conditions would violate the federal Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. FERPA protects students by prohibiting “universities from disclosing ‘education records’ of a student … without the consent of the student …”

The conditions order the University to accept responsibility for ensuring that students obey District laws, release the license plate number of all motor vehicles kept by University students and report all disciplinary action to parents.

In response to the request for postponement, the BZA clarified some of the conditions. Some have said that the clarification may make the rulings less strict than originally interpreted by Georgetown.

The University will continue to implement the BZA’s orders, according to Julie Green Bataille, Vice President for Communications. Green Bataille said she would not know how the University would implement the orders until the BZA responds to the request for postponement in writing.

The University looked into appealing the BZA’s decision in either the D.C. Court of Appeals or the Federal Court, Green Bataille said.

Most challenges to orders made by state administrative bodies are filed in state court. The District Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over most orders made by BZA. The University is therefore filing with D.C. Court of Appeals.

A challenge in federal court might be attempted if the group affected believes the order violated the United States constitution.

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