What is FERPA?
FERPA (short for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a Federal law that guards the privacy of student education records. FERPA is applied to all schools that receive funds under any applicable programs of the United States Department of Education.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) delivers certain rights to parents with respect to their child’s education records. These rights are offered to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or enters schooling beyond the high school level. Any student who receives these rights is deemed “eligible students” under FERPA.
Rights Awarded Under FERPA:
Eligible students or parents maintain the right to review the student’s education records that are formally maintained by the school. All academic institutions are not required to provide copies of said records unless it is deemed impossible for the parents and eligible students to review the records—remote location from the school is an acceptable reason.
Eligible students or parents maintain the right to request that an academic institution correct records if they believe said records to be misleading or inaccurate. If the academic institution decides not to edit the record, the eligible student or parent possesses the right to engage in a formal hearing. Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the eligible student or parent—if the school still decides not to alter the record—has the right to place a statement with the record to establish his or her view with regards to the contested information.
In general, academic institutions must exhibit written permission from the eligible student or parent in order to release any information from a student’s education record. That being said, FERPA permits any academic institution to disclose these records, without consent, to the following institutions or individuals under the following conditions:
• Any school official who exhibits a legitimate educational interest
• Other academic institutions to which the student is transferring
• Any appropriate party in connection with financial aid to the student
• Accrediting organizations
• State and local government bodies, within the juvenile system, pursuant to state law
• Certain officials who implement evaluation or audit purposes
An academic institution may disclose, without any consent, “directory” information such as the student’s name, telephone number, date of birth, address, dates of attendance and any scholastic achievements if applicable. That being said, an academic institution must notify all eligible students and all parents concerning directory information and offer eligible students and parents a reasonable amount of time to request the institution to not disclose directory information about them. Academic institutions must notify eligible students and parents annually of their rights offered by FERPA. The means of notification (PTA bulletins, student handbooks or newspaper articles) is left to the discretion of each institution.