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White Oak ISD
FERPA and You
Fam il y Ed uc ati on a l R igh ts a n d Pr iv acy A ct
By Pam Cranford
What is FERPA?
FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment, is the
Family Educational Right and Privacy Act. It was
designed to assert and protect the rights of students
and their parents.
The focus of FERPA is to assure parents access to their
student’s education records and to protect such
individuals’ rights to privacy by limiting the
transferability of their records without their consent.
Further amendments permitted disclosures of
information without parental consent relating to acts of
violence or criminal conduct committed by students.
Who has rights under FERPA?
Parents of students who attend or have attended
a school or facility that receives federal funding.
Adult students (those who are 18 years of age or
students younger than 18 who are attending an
institution of post-secondary education)
Who is bound by FERPA?
FERPA applies to an educational agency or
institution that receives federal funds under any
program administered by the Secretary of
Education This clearly includes funding
provided under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA).
What are the rights granted by FERPA?
The right to inspect and review the education records relating to the
students maintained by the schools the student attends or has attended;
The right to challenge and require the school to amend any portion of the
records that the parents feel is inaccurate misleading or otherwise in
violation of the student’s privacy rights;
The right to require the school to obtain written consent prior to the
disclosure of personally identifiable information;
The right to be informed by the school of the rights accorded parents
under FERPA on an annual basis; and
The right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office.
What are education records?
Educational records are defined as any official
records, files, media, and data directly related to
students that are created, maintained, and used
by public education institutions. Most of the
documentation schools create concerning
students is education records.
What is personally identiﬁable information?
Personally identifiable information is
information about a student including: the
student’s name; name of parent or other family
member; address of student or student’s family;
a personal identifier, such as the student’s social
security number or student number; a list of
personal characteristics that would make the
student’s identity easily traceable; and any other
information that would make the student’s
identity easily traceable.
Are there other laws besides FERPA that
govern the protection of school records?
With the 1994 Protection of Pupil Rights Act
(PPRA)regulating what types of information about students
could be collected for studies, written parent consent must
be obtained before a public elementary or secondary school
student is required under a survey, analysis or evaluation
that is part of an applicable program to reveal personal
information about behavior, income, political affiliations,
family health, or privileged professional relationships.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)protects
the school records for special education students.
What types of school records are
speciﬁcally excluded from
characterization as education records?
Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative
personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker thereof
and which are not accessible or revealed to any other person
except a substitute.
Sole possession records are records that are kept in the sole
possession of the maker of the record, which are used only as a
personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any
other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the
Records maintained by law enforcement unit of the educational
agency for the purpose of law enforcement
Treatment records due to HIPPA
What are the parents’ rights
for the requirement of notice?
FERPA requires that parents have the right to be
effectively informed on an annual basis in the
home language of the parent. It is a good idea to
provide notice to any noncustodial parent as
For parents whose primary language is not
English, the school district must undertake
measures to the extent that is practicable.
What are the parents’ rights for
the requirement of review?
FERPA requires that the district comply with a
request for review within no more than 45 days.
When a review is not feasible, a copy of the requested
records must be provided. The school is also required
to respond to reasonable requests for explanations of
record contents. Records should not be destroyed
while a request for review is pending.
A parent should address a request to review records
to the building principal for students actively
enrolled, to the superintendent for students who are
not actively enrolled or who have graduated, and to
the special education director for special education
Can a parent request review of all
the student’s education records?
The parent is entitled to request a review of all
education records maintained by a school district
with no specificity of items necessary There are
also no time restrictions limited to the current
May a parent’s right to review and
inspect education records be
exercised by a representative?
The right to review and inspect education records is personal, in
the sense that a school is not required to allow a parent to assign
or delegate the right to review to a representative, whether that
individual be an attorney, parent advocate, or a friend or relation.
FERPA regulations contain no provision of the comparable right
set out in IDEA regulations that does allow for review and
inspection of records by a parent representative. It does not,
however, preclude states or districts from choosing to allow such
review, either as a general matter or in particular circumstances,
assuming the parents document in writing their consent and the
representative agrees not to disclose the personally identifiable
information contained in the records.
The school district is not responsible for a third party’s failure to
keep disclosed personally identifiable information confidential.
May the school charge a fee?
No fee may be charged for search and retrieval of
educational records for parental review. A fee
may be charged for copies unless the fee will
effectively prevent the parent from reviewing
requested education records.
What are the parents’ rights in
regard to amend the records?
If a parent believe the contents of a student’s
education records are inaccurate, misleading or
otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of a
student, he/she may request an amendment of
What must a parent do to request an
amendment of an education record?
It is clearly suggested in the law that the parent
write a request advising the following: (1) the
information that is claimed to be inaccurate;
(2)the education record in which the parent
believes the information is contained; (3) the
basis for the parent’s claim; and (4) the parent’s
proposal for change
What action can a parent take if a
school refuses to amend a record?
The school refusing the request to amend must advise the
parent that the request has been denied and that the parent
has a right to a hearing.
The parent may request a hearing, which is conducted by any
individual, including an official of the educational agency or
institution, who does not have a direct interest in the
outcome of the hearing. One or more individuals of their
own choice, including an attorney, may represent parents at
a hearing. The hearing officer must respond with a written
decision The parent may then file a complaint with the
Family Policy Compliance Office alleging that the district has
not complied with the regulatory requirements for
May the parent include explanatory
comments in a student’s educational records?
The parent may place a statement in the record
commenting on the contested information in the
record or stating why he or she disagrees with
the decision of the agency. The parent may
include these explanatory comments without
requesting or participating in a hearing. The
district must disclose the parent’s comments
whenever it discloses the related records, or
portion of the record.
What are the parents’
rights to nondisclosure?
The parents’ right to nondisclosure exists when other individuals
or agencies other than those set out in FERPA might request
records. In this situation, parents have the right to deny
disclosure to these individuals or agencies with the exceptions
✪ Teachers or other district officials who have legitimate educational interests.
✪ Officials of another school system where the student seeks enrollment
✪ Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General or state education authorities
✪ In connection with the application for receipt of financial aid
✪ State and local juvenile justice systems
✪ Organizations conducting educational studies
✪ Accrediting organizations
✪ Parents of an eligible student is considered a dependent student by the IRS
✪ In compliance with a subpoena
✪ In connection with a health or safety emergency
✪ If designated as directory information including the student’s name, address, telephone, date
and place of birth, major field of study; participation in officially recognized activities and sports,
weight and height or members of athletic teams; dates of attendance, degrees and awards
received; and most recent previous educational agency or institutions attended by the student