Does FERPA permit schools to disclose a student’s education records to the State or local CWA or tribal organization?

There are exceptions to consent in FERPA that permit, but do not require, local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools to disclose personally identifiable information (PII) from education records under certain conditions without the written consent of the parent or eligible student.  Congress amended FERPA to add an additional exception to the general requirement of consent in FERPA that permits LEAs and schools to disclose education records of students placed in foster care, without consent of the parent or eligible student, to an agency caseworker or other representative of a State or local child welfare agency (CWA) or tribal organization authorized to access a student’s case plan when such agency or organization is legally responsible, in accordance with State or tribal law, for the care and protection of the student. 

To summarize, a “case plan” is defined at 42 U.S.C. 675(1) as a written document that must include a number of specified items that, among other things, must address both the proper care of children in foster care placement.  The plan also addresses the services that are provided to children in foster care placement, their parents, and their foster parents.  The plan also includes, but is not limited to, ensuring the educational stability of children in foster care. 

Therefore, the amendment to FERPA only applies to those children for whom the CWA or tribal organization is legally responsible, in accordance with State or tribal law, for the care and protection of a child in foster care placement.  FERPA would not permit LEAs and schools and  to disclose PII from education records to the CWA or tribal organization for children who are not in foster care placement, even if those children  are receiving other services through the CWA or tribal organization (e.g., vocational and skill assessments, training, tutoring, educational services, family services, and community enrichment activities).