The Family Policy Compliance Office is excited to announce the launch  of the new Student Privacy Website! This new website replaces both the Privacy Technical Assistance Center’s and the Family Policy Compliance Office’s sites.  The Student Privacy Website can be found at:  https://studentprivacy.ed.gov. Be sure to update your bookmarks accordingly!

May schools comply with a subpoena or court order for education records without the consent of the parent or eligible student?

Yes.  FERPA permits disclosure of education records without consent in compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order.  See § 99.31(a)(9)(i) and (ii).  However, a school must generally make a reasonable effort to notify the parent or eligible student of the subpoena or judicial order before complying with it in order to allow the parent or eligible student the opportunity to seek protective action, unless certain exceptions apply.   Exceptions to the requirement of prior notification apply to:  (1) a federal grand jury subpoena or other subpoena issued for a law enforcement purpose if the court or other issuing agency has ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed; (2) an ex parte order obtained by the United States Attorney General (or designee not lower than Assistant Attorney General) concerning investigations or prosecutions of an act of terrorism or other specified offenses.  See § 99.31(a)(9)(ii).   For example, if a school received a law enforcement subpoena that requested information on a student suspected of selling drugs, it would not have to make an effort to notify the parent or eligible student if the court or other issuing agency ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed.  Additionally, when a parent is a party to a court proceeding involving child abuse and neglect (as defined in section 3 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5101 note)) or dependency matters, and the order is issued in the context of that proceeding, additional notice to the parent by the educational agency or institution is not required, the school does not have to notify the parent.