FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA)
NEW FERPA REGULATIONS
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.