Learn About the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
According to statute “20 U. S.C 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99” of the Federal Law in the United States, FERPA or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted to protect the privacy of the educational records of students. This act is applicable to all the schools and educational institutes in the country that are eligible to get resources and assistance under the program run by the Department of Education in the United States.
In addition, under the provision of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents are given specific rights regarding the educational records of their children. These rights are transferred to the students when they turn 18 years of age or they attend school beyond the level high school. According to the act, students who are eligible to benefit from these rights are considered to be “eligible students”.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act makes sure that the parents and eligible students have the following rights with regards to the educational records of the students:
The eligible students and parents can at anytime request for a review or inspection of the educational records of the students that are maintained by the school. Schools do not have to provide a copy of the education records of the students. The copies of the education records of the students is made available for a fee in cases where the parents or the eligible students cannot inspect or review the particular records that they are interested in owing to reasons such as a great distance.
The eligible students and parents also enjoy the right to appeal to the school to rectify any errors or misleading information contained in the student’s educational records. The school authorities have to make the necessary changes where applicable. If the authorities refuse to make an amendment, parents or eligible students have the right to appeal for a formal hearing. If the school authorities still refuse to make the changes to the records after the formal hearing, then the parents have the right to insert a statement stating their views with respect to the information that is under dispute.
Disclosure of Information
The schools require permission from the eligible students or the parents of the students whose educational records need to be released or made available for disclosure. But the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act let the school authorities to release the educational records of the students without the permission from the eligible students or parents to certain ‘parties’ under certain conditions. Under statute 34 CFR 99.31, the conditions under which this information can be disclosed or the parties that are eligible to receive this information include:
The accrediting Organizations, school authorities in case of matters that are of valid educational interest, if and when the student is transferred to another school, for evaluation and audit purposes, in case of students who seek financial aid from a third party the information is revealed to that party, to the relevant officials in the case of emergencies and for health reasons, complying with a judicial order and to the state law enforcement agencies.
In addition to the above conditions, the school authorities can also disclose information contained in the educational records of the students such as the address, name, date of birth, place of birth, telephone number, any awards and honors received by the individual students and a record of their attendance. The authorities have to inform the parents about this disclosure and give them time to respond if they do not wish to disclose these details.The school authorities also have to inform the parents and the eligible students about their rights under FERPA on an annual basis through notification and PTA bulletin.
If you require any additional information or technical help regarding FERPA you can call at: (202) 260-3887 You can also contact at: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202-5920.