Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. 1232 g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under and applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their childrenʼs education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”
• Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the studentʼs education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
• Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records that they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
• Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a studentʼs education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR 99.31):
Parents or eligible students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the district to comply with the requirements of the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA.
Notification of Rights Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
The No Child Left Behind Act contains a major amendment to the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment that gives parents more rights with regard to the surveying of minor students, the collection of information from students for marketing purposes and certain non emergency medical examinations. PPRA affords parents and students who are 18 or emancipated minors (“eligible students”) the right to:
Consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following protected areas (“protected information survey”) if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a program of the U.S. Department of Education (ED):
• Political affiliations or beliefs of the students or studentʼs parent;
• Mental or psychological problems of the student or the studentʼs family;
• Sex behavior or attitudes;
• Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
• Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
• Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
• Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or parents; or
• Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.
Receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of:
• Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
• Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school or its agent, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under State law;
• Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information obtained from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others.
Inspect, upon request before administration or use:
• Protected information surveys of students;
• Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes; and
• Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum.
Parents/eligible students who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-4605