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  • Writer's pictureAimee

Key Laws to Know: FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) is a federal law that protects the confidentiality of student education records. Student “education records” are those which are: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by the educational agency or a party acting on behalf of the educational agency. They can range from the main office paper file to electronic records that are housed within cloud-based or web platforms.

FERPA extends various rights to parents of children enrolled in schools receiving federal funding, such as public school districts and charter schools.  Parents are permitted to inspect and review their child’s education records upon request. While schools need not copy education records for the parent unless extenuating circumstances exist, they must make records available in the school setting for review.  Generally, records must be made available within “a reasonable period of time,” but not more than forty-five (45) days of the request.

Parents have a right under FERPA to request amendment of school records that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of a student’s rights.

Schools also must obtain written permission from a parent prior to releasing personally identifiable information from school records, such as a student’s name, address, family member names, and personal identifiers such as social security number, student number, or biometric record.  Prior consent must be received before a school can release identifying information that would allow the child to be personally identified by a reasonable person.

There are several exceptions to FERPA’s requirement for written parental permission prior to release of records. The following individuals or entities may receive education records even where written consent has not been received:

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;

  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;

  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;

  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;

  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;

  • Accrediting organizations;

  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and

  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Furthermore, FERPA does allow disclosure of “directory information” on a student absent parental consent.  Directory information must be defined within a school’s local policy and annual FERPA notice, and can include a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. 

FERPA rights transfer to a student when they reach age 18 or begin attending post-secondary school.

If you have a concern with confidentiality of school records, or any other education law concern, contact Zundel Law at

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