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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Jennifer Wells

on 9 December 2015

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Transcript of FERPA

A closer look at the law
FERPA is a federal law that sets forth basic privacy requirements for
personally identifiable information
contained in
education records
created or maintained by schools.
Who is covered by FERPA?
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Any educational agency that receives any type of federal funding or directs and controls an educational institution. 34 C.F.R. § 99.1

This includes all public K-12 school districts and schools.
Who has FERPA rights?
A “
” is any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains education records.

Once a student turns eighteen (18) years of age, the rights of the parents transfer to the student and they become an “
eligible student
Correcting Records
Parents or eligible students have the right to
that a school correct records which they believe to be
. 34 CFR § 99.20
Education Records
Schools must have
permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. 34 CFR § 99.30
Education Records
Student GPAs and transcripts; final course grades
Admissions materials
Financial aid records
Disciplinary records
Attendance records
Academic counseling records
Student health records
Personally Identifiable Information
Personally identifiable information
within education records cannot be disclosed unless:
Eligible students or parents of students have FERPA rights.
The Rule:
Quiz: Who has FERPA rights?
Johnny attended your school last year for fifth grade, but has moved on to middle school.
Does he have FERPA rights?
Do Johnny’s parents have FERPA rights?
Johnny’s older sister, Jessica, is 18 years old and attends the high school.
Does Jessica have FERPA rights?
Do Jessica’s parents have FERPA rights as to Jessica’s records?
Does Jessica have FERPA rights as to Johnny’s records?
The Rule:
Schools are not required to provide copies.

Schools may charge a fee for copies.
Quiz: Correcting Records
Mrs. Smith’s son, Andrew, attends your school. Andrew Smith’s grades are excellent. By mistake, a very low GPA belonging to Anders Smith, another student at the school, was attributed to Andrew. Mrs. Smith doesn’t know how it happened, but she thinks Andrew’s records reflect an incorrect GPA. She has requested the following:
That the school correct Andrew’s records to reflect Andrew’s real grade;
That the school tell her whose GPA was entered into Andrew’s records;
That the school provide a copy of the updated records; and
That these records be provided at no cost to her.
Which of these
the school do?
The Rule:
“Education records”
are records that are directly related to a
and maintained by an
“educational agency or institution”
or by a party acting for the agency or institution. 34 CFR § 99.3
“Education records”
include, but are not limited to:
Quiz: Education Records
Tiffany has a perfect attendance record. Your local newspaper recognizes student accomplishments and has asked for the names of students with perfect attendance, along with documented proof of their perfect attendance.
What are the school’s obligations in responding to this request?
The Rule:
You have prior written consent,
The information is
directory information,
An exception to the general rule exists.
A local doctor would like to award a college scholarship to an outstanding 11th grade student. Due to your excellent teaching skills, your student, William, applied for the scholarship and has been chosen to receive this award. The doctor calls the school and asks you to confirm William’s social security number.
Quiz: Personally Identifiable Information
Can you give it to him?
School officials with legitimate educational interest;
This does not mean every staff member can access the education records of every student.
Other schools to which a student is transferring;
Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
Accrediting organizations;
To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies;
State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
The Rule:
Each educational agency or institution must annually notify parents of students currently in attendance, or eligible students currently in attendance, of their rights under FERPA. 34 CFR § 99.7
The notice must include all of the following:
The procedure for exercising the right to inspect and review education records.
The procedure for requesting amendment of records.
If the educational agency or institution has a policy of disclosing education records,
the district must define what it considers directory information that can be released upon request without parental consent.
The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a Federal law, requires that [School District], with certain exceptions, obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your child's education records. However, [School District] may disclose appropriately designated "directory information" without written consent, unless you have advised the District to the contrary in accordance with District procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the [School District] to include this type of information from your child's education records in certain school publications. Examples include:
A playbill, showing your student's role in a drama production;
The annual yearbook;
Honor roll or other recognition lists;
Graduation programs; and
Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members.
Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent's prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, two federal laws require local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with the following information – names, addresses and telephone listings – unless parents have advised the LEA that they do not want their student's information disclosed without their prior written consent. (1)
If you do not want [School District] to disclose directory information from your child's education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by [insert date]. [School District] has designated the following information as directory information: [Note: an LEA may, but does not have to, include all the information listed below.]
Student's name
Telephone listing
Electronic mail address
Date and place of birth
Major field of study
Dates of attendance
Grade level
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Weight and height of members of athletic teams
Degrees, honors, and awards received
The most recent educational agency or institution attended

Student ID number, user ID, or other unique personal identifier used to communicate in electronic systems that cannot be used to access education records without a PIN, password, etc. (A student's SSN, in whole or in part, cannot be used for this purpose.)
USDOE Model Notice
Quiz: Is this an exception?
You teach 7th grade English, but you are curious about a 9th grader’s file after hearing some interesting gossip in the teachers’ lounge.
Can you access it?
Sierra recently moved to another school. Her new school has called to request Sierra’s records.
Can you send them to the school?
Must you ask for written consent from Sierra’s parents?
The Department of Education is conducting an audit on your campus. The auditor has requested documents for the audit, some of which contain FERPA protected student information.
Must you give the auditor these documents?
Quiz: Is this an exception?
Your school has invited an organization to conduct an evaluation of an achievement gap between students with higher and lower income families.
May you give this organization student financial information?
Must you receive the families’ consent first?
May you release copies of relevant documents that contain some Personally Identifiable Information not requested by the organization?
You have been given a valid subpoena for student records otherwise protected by FERPA.

Must you present these records according to the subpoena?
A student with a delicate medical issue has a medical emergency at school. In order to save the student’s life:

May you give relevant and important medical information about the student to the paramedics who respond to your 911 call?
May you give the student’s entire file to the paramedics in order to save time?
FOIA Requests
If all or part of the records are covered under FERPA and cannot be disclosed under FERPA, then they also cannot be disclosed under FOIA
What do you do if you receive a FOIA request for records covered under FERPA?
The Rule:
FOIA follows

What is FOIA?
Freedom of Information Act
Schools may receive written requests for documents, which is called a Freedom of Information Request.
The school has a limited period of time in which to respond, and the response should include only that information requested which is not covered by FERPA.
Information protected by FERPA should be redacted (blacked out completely, but left in the document).
Your school has received a valid FOIA request for several documents. Which of the following might you redact?
The names of students who receive free or reduced lunches
The number of students who are proficient or advanced in 3rd grade math
A list containing each administrator’s name and salary
A document showing the names and addresses of students who attend your school
Quiz: FOIA Follows FERPA
Penalties for Violation
Any student may file a complaint for violation of FERPA with the US Department of Education.

Violation of FERPA may lead to the withdrawal of federal funding.

Violators may be suspended or terminated.
To a student reporter writing a Most Improved 6th Grade Student article:

“I’m so proud of Pamela’s achievements. She missed my class every Friday last year and as a result made C’s, but this year she hasn’t missed a single day and is making straight A’s!”
What if Pamela says it’s okay?
What if Pamela’s mother writes a letter and says it’s okay?
Quiz: What's wrong here?
To a co-worker:
“Did you hear that Branson’s father lost his job? I was concerned, so I accessed Branson’s financial information and was glad to see he qualified for free lunches this year.”
To a co-worker:
“Adam has the best grades in the school. Did you know he has a 4.0 GPA? I can’t say the same for his brother. His GPA is a 2.3.”
To a valid documents request:
“This document answers the request, but contains student names, addresses, and social security numbers. Since it’s the right document, I can hand it over as it is.”
Tripp Walter
Staff Attorney
Arkansas Public Schools Resource Center
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 315
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Telephone: (501) 492-4300

Jennifer Dedman
Staff Attorney
Johnny is protected by FERPA, but Johnny is in 5th grade so FERPA rights are exercised by his parents.
Jessica has FERPA rights which she may exercise for herself because she is 18 years of age. Jessica's parents may remain in the loop, as before, unless Jessica requests otherwise. Jessica may not exercise any rights as to Johnny's records.
Which of these
the school do?
Is there anything the school
The school may provide a copy of the records and may do so at no cost.
The school must correct Andrew's records to reflect his real grade.
The school cannot tell anyone that the incorrect grade belongs to Anders.
The school must check their policy to confirm that student achievements/awards are listed as directory information. Even so, documents must not be provided without permission. If the information is not directory information, the school must either obtain written permission from Tiffany's parents for both the statement and the documents or must decline to provide this information to the paper.
What if you have William's parents' written permission?
Can you then give it to anyone else who calls?
Not without permission from William's parents.
You may then give the doctor anything William's parents have given written permission to release.
No. The written permission only extends to the doctor, unless William's parents have written otherwise.
No. As a 7th grade English teacher, you have no reason to access the files of a 9th grader who is not your student. Curiosity is not a legitimate educational interest.
You may send the records to the new school without Sierra's parents' consent. This is an exception to the rule.
Yes. This is an exception to the rule.
You should give the paramedic anything that may save the student's life, but you must not hand over her entire file or anything clearly irrelevant.
You may give the organization only that information which is relevant to the study and no more. It is usually a good idea to request participation from families or to inform families of the study, but it is not necessary to obtain consent. You may not release any personally identifiable information not requested by the organization.
No. This is public information.
Only if that information is listed in your policy as directory information.
Grades and attendance are education records.
Curiosity is not a legitimate educational interest. Accessing the records for that reason is not permitted. Gossip about the information is both prohibited and unprofessional.
You must redact any information from the document which is protected under FERPA.
FOIA follows FERPA.
Student GPAs are education records. The first statement is fine, but the access to and release of the specific GPAs without a legitimate educational interest is prohibited.
Full transcript