Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. This page serves to provide general information about parents’ and students’ rights under FERPA.

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What is FERPA?

When it comes to student privacy and access to student information, certain rights are afforded to both parents and eligible students. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232(g); 34 CFR Part 99) governs the release of educational records and information. FERPA applies to any educational institution that receives federal funding, and the rights originate with the parents. Once a child turns 18 or attends college, the rights are transferred to the student. A student to whom the rights have been transferred is considered an “eligible student.”

FERPA is very specific on the types of information that may be disclosed without consent (“directory” information), as well as any exceptions in which an educational institution may disclose student records without consent. If you believe a school has committed a FERPA violation, connect with an experienced New York State education lawyer who can help protect your rights as a parent or eligible student.

Basic Requirements Under FERPA

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents and eligible students are afforded the right to:

  • View a student’s education records.
  • Request the correction of inaccurate school records.
  • Prohibit a school from disclosing “directory” information.

Any requests under FERPA must be made in writing. It is important to note that while parents and eligible students have the right to view educational records, schools are not required to provide copies of records. If the parent or eligible student has a legitimate reason barring them from being physically present to view the records, such as distance or disability, schools must provide copies of the requested information and may charge a fee.

If an eligible student or parent requests a change to inaccurate records and the school fails to implement the requested change, they have the right to a formal hearing to enforce the change. If you have submitted a written FERPA request to amend a school record and the school has not made the requested change, an education lawyer can help you request and attend the formal hearing to ensure your rights under FERPA are upheld.

FERPA Exceptions

While FERPA protects the dissemination of student educational information, there are instances in which a federally funded institution may give out information about a student. Pursuant to 34 CFR § 99.31, schools may disclose information without consent in the following scenarios:

  • A school official who is deemed to have “legitimate educational interests” in the requested information.
  • The request comes from another institution to which the student is transferring.
  • There is a court order or subpoena for the student records, or the request comes from authorities in the juvenile justice system (pursuant to state law).
  • In the event of a health/safety emergency, information may be given to appropriate officials.
  • The request comes from an appropriate party in connection with a student’s financial aid.
  • An organization is conducting a study for the school.
  • The information is needed to help provide data to accrediting organizations for school accreditation.

In addition, unless otherwise revoked by a parent or eligible student, schools may disclose what is called “directory” information to any requesting party or organization without prior consent. Examples of directory information about a student include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Honors and awards received

Though schools are allowed to share directory information, they still need to inform the parent and child of what they designate as directory information, who they’re disclosing it to and why, inform the parent/student of their right to refuse to share the information and opt out of it in the future, and how long they have to refuse before the school sends out directory information.

With so many different scenarios in which consent is not required, it can be difficult for parents and eligible students to determine if a violation of student privacy rights has occurred. An education lawyer familiar with student privacy rights in New York State can help you determine if a violation has occurred and what remedies are available to you.

 

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Contact Our Experienced Student Privacy Rights Lawyers Today

If you believe a school has violated your or your child’s FERPA privacy rights by improperly disclosing educational record information, failing to correct a record, or refusing to let you see records, you should contact a knowledgeable education lawyer, like the dedicated team at Tully Rinckey, that can help you remedy the student privacy violation. We offer statewide education law representation in New York State, with locations in Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Saratoga, Syracuse, Rochester, and White Plains.

To schedule an initial consultation with a member of our experienced team, contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 8885294543 or info@tullylegal.com. You can also book your consultation online via the link below.

You can also use our secure Live Chat feature to connect with us regarding your matter. You will be connected with a member of our client relations team ready to assist you.

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