What is a “law enforcement unit record”?

“Law enforcement unit records” are those records that are:  (1) created by a law enforcement unit; (2) created for a law enforcement purpose; and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit.  See 34 CFR § 99.8(b)(1). 

Law enforcement unit records are not protected by FERPA because they are specifically excluded from the definition of “education records” and thus, from the privacy protections afforded to parents and eligible students by FERPA.  Therefore, investigative reports and other records created and maintained by these law enforcement units that meet this definition are not considered “education records” subject to FERPA. 

Accordingly, under FERPA, schools may disclose information from law enforcement unit records to anyone, including outside law enforcement authorities, without consent from parents or eligible students.  (Schools should be aware of any other applicable policies or laws, including federal civil rights laws, regarding any requirements for disclosure or restrictions of disclosure of law enforcement unit records.)  Law enforcement unit records do not include: (1) records created by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose that are maintained by a component of the educational agency or institution other than the law enforcement unit (such as a principal or other school official); or (2) records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit exclusively for a non-law enforcement purpose, such as a disciplinary action or proceeding conducted by the educational agency or institution.  See 34 CFR § 99.8(b)(2).