FERPA

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law created and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education that protects the privacy of student educational records. The Act provides to: protect the privacy of student educational records; establish the right of students to inspect and review their educational records; and provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings. The Act applies to any educational institution (schools, school districts, postsecondary institutions) that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Source

Who is protected under FERPA?

Students, regardless of age or status relative to parental dependency, who currently are or formerly have been enrolled in an educational institution. Parents of students termed “dependent” for income tax purposes may have access to the student’s educational records. Students who have applied but have not attended an institution are not protected by FERPA. Source

What are educational records?

An educational record is any record, maintained by an educational institution where a student can be personally identified. Student educational records may exist in any medium (e.g., handwritten document, electronic or digital files, email, fax documents, advising notes/folder, video recordings, audio recordings, film and microfilm, and digital images).

What is not considered an educational record?

  • Teacher/staff created private notes about the student that are not kept in advising folder.
  • Law enforcement or campus security records created and maintained solely for law enforcement purposes.
  • Medical records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other professional or paraprofessional providing treatment.
  • Alumni records.

Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?

An educational agency or institution may disclose what is defined as directory information of a student, without consent, to the following parties under the following conditions:

  • School officials (administrators, teachers, staff members acting on behalf of the school) with legitimate educational interest*;
  • 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; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

* A legitimate educational interest is access to educational records by appropriate school administrators, teachers, or staff members, in order to perform their legitimate educational and business duties, when such records are needed in furtherance of the educational or business purposes of the student.

Source

What is directory information?

Directory information is specific information about the student that is considered public and may be released without the student's written permission unless the student has filed a restriction on such release. Directory information includes:

  • student name
  • address
  • email address
  • phone Number
  • Place of birth
  • Dates of school attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Awards, and honors received, including selection criteria
  • Expected graduation date
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports

Source

Under what conditions is prior consent required to disclose non-directory information?

Non-directory information cannot be released without prior written consent from the parent or student. Non-directory information includes electronic records accessible in a Student Information System (SIS), such as:

  • Personal identifiers and biodemographic data (e.g., student id number, social security number, picture, date of birth, ethnicity, gender, relationship,
  • Parent/guardian address or emergency contact information,
  • Academic records (e.g., grades, test scores, course history, academic specializations and activities, and official letters regarding student's status in school).

A signed and dated consent must be obtained before any disclosure is made. This written consent, which may be an electronic signature, must: specify the records that may be disclosed, state the purpose of disclosure, identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made.

Source

What documents or information can be removed from an educational records before a student views the record?

  • Any information that pertains to another student
  • Financial records of the student’s parents
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation where the student has waived the right to view and access these (FERPA section 99.12) Source

What is the institution’s responsibility for notification related to FERPA?

Schools must annually notify parents and students in attendance of their rights under FERPA. The annual notification must: include information regarding a parent's right to inspect and review his or her child's education records, the right to seek to amend the records, the right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records (except in certain circumstances), and the right to file a complaint with the Office regarding an alleged failure by a school to comply with FERPA.

The school must also inform parents of its definitions of the terms "school official" and "legitimate educational interest."Schools can publish their annual notification by various means, including: school's website, student handbook, calendar of school events, school newspaper, or posted in a central location at the school. 

U.S. Department of Education. FERPA General Guidance for Students. Source  

Additional information regarding FERPA Regulations and History can be found at:  https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html