The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, is the federal law administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office in the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA is the federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s school records. FERPA applies to any school or institution that receives federal funding.
Only educational records are protected as part of FERPA. These include any information or documents that are related specifically to a particular student’s education. Generally, any data directly related to a student’s academic records are not to be released to anyone without consent. For example, admissions information, birth, gender, and race, grades, test scores, coursework, school-related activities, disciplinary records, financial aid information, and academic progress reports are all education records and data protected under FERPA. School administrators are required to follow specific rules when providing educational records of a student.
Consent of Student or Parent
Schools are allowed to release protected information only with the consent of the student (if over age 18) or the student’s parent or guardian (if under the age of 18). Consent must be given prior to releasing any information and must be made in writing. Schools should have a policy in place for students or parents to properly request information. These requests must be kept as part of the student’s file. If a student believes that information was released without appropriate written consent, a complaint may be filed with the U.S. Department of Education. The complaint will be evaluated and appropriate action may be taken.
Rights under FERPA
Every student has rights provided under FERPA. These include the right to review or inspect educational records, the right to request amendments to the records if required, the right to obtain a copy of the records policy of the school, and the right to provide consent to disclose records. The school or institution must have in place and available their policy regarding the handling of student records.
Schools and institutions are required to handle student records properly and in accordance with FERPA. School or district personnel must be aware of the private nature of education records, and the legal guidelines for disclosure of the records. Schools should have a policy in place in accord with FERPA that provides guidelines for school or district personnel on when and how to disclose a student’s education records. If schools have any questions or concerns regarding their role in FERPA, they should discuss the matter with an education attorney.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.