FERPA for Students and Parents
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or the FERPA is a Federal law expressed in Title 20, section 1232 of the United States Code that protects the privacy of student education records. The act applies to all schools that receive any funds under an applicable federal program of the United States Department of Education.
FERPA give parents certain defined rights in respect to the education records of their children. These rights then transfer from the parent to the student when the student reaches 18 years or goes a school above the high school level, such as university. These students that have received the rights that were transferred from the parents are considered eligible students.
Any eligible student or parent has the right to review and inspect the student’s education records that are administered and maintained by the school under FERPA. However, schools are not legally required to provide any copies of records unless it is somehow impossible for either a student’s parent or an eligible student to review the education records, for example due to a great distance. Schools are also within their rights to charge a fee for copies made.
Under FERPA, a parent or an eligible student also has the legal right to request that a school makes a correction to an education records if they believe that the record is misleading or inaccurate. If the school chooses not to amend the education record, the eligible student or parent has the legal right to a formal hearing.
After the legal hearing, if the school still feels that it should not amend the record, the eligible student or parent then has the legal right as given by FERPA to add a statement with the education record with his or her view about the information that was contested.
Often, schools must obtain written permission from the eligible student or parent in order to release a student’s education record. However, under FERPA, schools are allowed to disclose those education records, without the student’s or parent’s consent, to the follow individuals or parties
• A school official with a legitimate educational interest
• A specified official for evaluation reasons or an audit
• A school that the student is transferring to
• An organization in connection with a student’s financial aid
• Accrediting organizations
• Organizations holding certain studies on behalf of the school or for the school
• In accordance to a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order
• Local and state authorities for a juvenile justice system, following state law
• Safety or health emergencies
Schools may also disclose, without consent, a student’s information for the sake of a school directory, such as student’s name, phone number, address, awards and honors, birthdate, and attendance dates. However, the parents and eligible students must be informed about directory information by the school. A school must also give time for parents or eligible students to decline being put in the directory. Parents and eligible students must be notified of their rights as given by FERPA annually. This can be done through PTA bulletins, student handbooks, newspaper articles, or any other way a school feels is best.