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 parents or eligible students be provided access to education records that contain information on more than one student?

If the education records of a student contain personally identifiable information on other students, the parent or eligible student may inspect or review or be informed of only the specific information about the student in question.    34 CFR § 99.12.

What is an education program?

“Education program” is defined as any program principally engaged in the provision of education, including, but not limited to, early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, and any program that is administered by an educational agency or institution.   34 CFR § 99.3 “education program.”          

May an educational agency or institution disclose personally identifiable information from students education records for the purpose of a specified audit, evaluation, or for compliance and enforcement purposes under FERPA?

FERPA permits schools to disclose PII from students’ education records, without consent, to authorized representatives of State and local educational authorities, the Secretary of Education, the Comptroller General of the United States, and the Attorney General of the United States for specified purposes.  Disclosures may be made under this exception as necessary in connection with the audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or in connection with the enforcement of Federal legal requirements that relate to those program.   34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(3) and 99.35.

May an educational agency or institution disclose personally identifiable information from students education records to third parties for the purpose of conducting a study on its behalf?

FERPA contains an exception to its general consent rule under which an educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent to organizations conducting studies for, or on its behalf.  Studies must be only for the purpose of:  developing, validating, or administering predictive tests; administering student aid programs; or improving instruction.  A written agreement with the organization is required specifying the purposes of the study and the use and destruction of the information.   34 CFR § 99.31(a)(6)

May schools publish honors and awards received by a student?

Schools may disclose honors and awards received by students if it has properly designated “honors and awards” as a category in its directory information policy and has followed the requirements in FERPA for notifying parents and/or eligible students about the policy.

A student has opted out of directory information and wants to be anonymous on an online course. Are we required to allow the student to take the course anonymously?

No.  Under FERPA, a student may not use his or her right to opt out of directory information disclosures to prevent school officials from identifying the student by name or disclosing the student’s electronic identifier or institutional e-mail address in class.

Are law enforcement records protected under FERPA?

“Law enforcement unit records” (i.e., records created by a law enforcement unit at the educational agency or institution, created for a law enforcement purpose, and maintained by the law enforcement unit) are not “education records” subject to the privacy protections of FERPA.  As such, the law enforcement unit may refuse to provide a parent or eligible student with an opportunity to inspect and review law enforcement unit records, and it may disclose law enforcement unit records to third parties without the parent or eligible student’s prior written consent.

Can stepparents, grandparents, and other caregivers be considered parents under FERPA?

In some cases, a stepparent may be considered a “parent” under FERPA if the stepparent is present on a day-to-day basis with the natural parent and child and the other parent is absent from that home.  Conversely, a stepparent who is not present on a day-to-day basis in the home of the child does not have rights under FERPA with respect to the child’s education records.  A grandparent or other caregiver who is acting in the absence of the parent(s) may also be considered a “parent” under FERPA.

Source: 34 CFR § 99.3

In the case of a divorce, do both parents have rights under FERPA?

Generally yes.  Unless a school is provided with evidence that there is a court order, State law, or other legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation, or custody that specifically provides to the contrary, FERPA gives custodial and noncustodial parents alike certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.  A school may ask for legal certification denoting parenthood, such as a birth certificate or court order, from the parent requesting access.

Source: 34 CFR § 99.4

What is an Education Record?

Education records are records that are directly related to a student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution.  These records include but are not limited to grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, health records (at the K-12 level), student financial information (at the postsecondary level), and student discipline files.  The information may be recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and

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