Protections of FERPA
The FERPA or Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is stated under 20 U.S.C. sub section 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. The FERPA is a federal law which has been established by the federal government in order to protect the privacy of student education records. This law is applicable to all schools which receives government funds from U.S. Department of Education under an applicable program.
The FERPA was enacted on November 19, 1974 under The Education Amendments of 1974. The FERPA was signed by President Ford on August 21, 1974 and became effective from November 19, 1974.
As per the FERPA law, parents are given certain rights in association to their children’s education records. The transfer of these rights to the student only occurs when he or she attains the age of 18 or joins a school beyond the high school level. The students are classified as eligible students to whom the rights have been transferred.
The student’s education records which are maintained by the school can be inspected and reviewed by the parents or the eligible students.
The schools can provide copies of education records under certain circumstances like distance or situations where it is not possible for the parents or the eligible student to review the records, as per the FERPA guidelines. The schools are authorized to charge a fee for issuance of copies.
If the parents or eligible students believe that the records provided by the school are misleading and inaccurate then they can request the school authority to correct them. The eligible students or parents have the right to a formal hearing, if the school decides not to rectify the error in the records. If the record in question is still not amended by the school, post formal hearing then the eligible student or parents have the right to express their views on the subject.
As per the guidelines of FERPA, the written permission from the eligible students or parents is compulsory for the schools in order to issue any information realted to a student’s education record. But there are certain exemptions stated in the FERPA guidelines which allow the school to disclose these records, without the consent of the parents or eligible students.
The education records can be disclosed under certain conditions and to certain authorities which are:
- Officials of the school who have legitimate educational interest
- To the school where the student is transferring
- Officials who are engaged in evaluation or audit
- The parties who provide educational aid to the student
- Studies conducted by organizations for or on behalf of the school
- Organizations responsible for accrediting
- Special order given by the judiciary or subpoena issued legally
- To officials who deal with health and safety emergencies
- Local and state authorities which falls under a juvenile justice system.
Disclosure of Information and its Effect on Public Records
The FERPA guideline clearly mentions that the educational records of a student cannot be disclosed to the public. The records can only be accessed by the parents or the eligible students. But there are certain situations where the school can disclose the directory information like name of the student, address, phone number, date and place of birth, awards and honors and attendance dates. It is necessary for the schools to notify the parents and the eligible candidates once a year about their FERPA rights.