FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) affords parents and students over eighteen years of age (“adult students” or “eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. The Board of Education adopted a policy regarding the disclosure of education records and the rights of parents and students to access education records. Copies of this policy and related guidelines are located in the school office and individual copies are available from the District’s Records Officer, Toni Glover. You can reach her at 869-4100.
Each student’s records will be kept in a confidential file located at the principal’s office. The information in a student’s record file will be available for review only by the parents or legal guardians of a student, an adult student and those authorized by State and Federal law and Board policy/guidelines. State and Federal law permits access by school officials who have a legitimate educational purpose. School officials for purpose of the Board’s policy include a person employed by the Board as an administrator, supervisor, teacher/instructor (including substitutes), or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the Board, a person or company with whom the Board has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, insurance carrier or medical consultant); a contractor, consultant, volunteer or other party to whom the Board had outsourced a service otherwise performed by Board employees (e.g. a therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his/her tasks (including volunteers). An individual will have a “legitimate educational purpose” if the record is necessary in order for the school official/employee to perform an administrative, supervisory or instructional task, or to perform a service or benefit for the student or the student’s family.
On December 2, 2011, the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) amended its Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) regulations. The revised regulations provide additional flexibility to school officials to share student data.
The following highlights the new FERPA regulations:
1. Directory Information Exception: The FERPA regulations historically have permitted districts to designate information as “directory information” and to disclose that information without parental consent unless the parent expressly opted out of disclosure. Under the revised regulations, schools now can adopt limited directory information policies that allow the disclosure of directory information to be limited to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both. “Directory information” includes a student’s name; parents’ name; address; telephone number; photograph, video or other visual representation; major field of study; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; height and weight, if member of an athletic team; dates of attendance; date of graduation; awards received; honor rolls; scholarships; telephone numbers for inclusion in school or PTCO directories; school photographs or videos of students participating in school activities, events or programs. Parents and students may refuse to allow the District to disclose any or all of such “directory information” upon written notification to the District within ten (10) days after receipt of the District’s public notice.
2. The Audit or Evaluation Exception: The Audit or Evaluation Exception permits the disclosure of PII (“personally identifiable information”) without consent to “authorized representatives” of state educational agencies (“SEAs”) and local educational agencies (“LEAs”).
3. Authorized Representative: SEAs and LEAs are now permitted to share data with other government agencies that are not under their direct control, as long as those other agencies are involved in a federal or state supported education program.
4. Education Program: The revised regulations also added the following definition for the term “education program”: “any program that is principally engaged in the provision of education, including, but not limited to, early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, post secondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, and any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.”
5. The Studies Exception: Allows for the disclosure of PII without consent to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the school district.
6. Protecting Student Privacy and Enforcement: LEAs are required to use “reasonable methods” to ensure that organizations that receive student data use the data only for authorized purposes.