Similar to reference letters, letters or memorandums which are matters of opinion in personnel files or students’ cumulative files are exempt from an IPRA inspection. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-1-A (3)
This exception is aimed at protecting subjective rather than factual information. This exception extends only to information that is a matter of opinion. Factual information is not protected merely because it is kept in an employee or student file. Job applications and applicant resumes are not matters of opinion and should be provided upon request. City of Farmington v Daily Times, 146 N.M. 349, 210 P.3d 246 (Ct.App. 2009)
A recent New Mexico Court of Appeals case interpreted the exception to cover matters of opinion related to the working relationship between an employer and employee. Complaints from citizens against police officers, for example, do not fall within the opinion exception and must be made available for inspection under IPRA. Cox v. New Mexico Dep’t of Public Safety, 148 N.M. 934, 242 P. 3d 501 (Ct. App. 2010).
In regard to student files, information not protected under this exception might otherwise be protected by the federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.