Basics of FERPA – School Compliance

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It was designed to protect both the privacy and security of certain kinds of educational records. It gives students, former students, auditing students, and others, certain privacy rights with respect to personally identifiable educational records.


What are Educational Records?

FERPA defines educational records as any records maintained by an educational agency, institution, or person acting for such that can identify a student on an individual level.


What is Directory Information?

Directory information refers to information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed (such as grade level or field of study). Grades, student IDs, social security numbers, disciplinary records, GPAs, and the like should not be considered “directory information,” and therefore, should not be disclosed.


What rights do parents have under FERPA?

For kids under 18, the parents generally have a right of both access to the student records and to exercise FERPA rights on behalf of the student. After age 18, these rights devolve to the students themselves. The parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution, and non-directory information only with either the consent of the student in writing or by demonstrating legal authority and that the child is a dependent.


What rights do students have under FERPA?

FERPA requires that students be informed that they have the right to opt out of inclusion in any directory listing, and the institution must provide a mechanism for students to easily do so.


What’s your role in all of this?

Treat all sensitive data with the highest level of care so that it never gets inappropriately disclosed or accessed by unauthorized individuals. Stay alert, think before you click, and whenever you have a question about policies, practices, or what you should do in any individual situation, don’t guess! Contact the relevant FERPA compliance office.

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