New FERPA Frequently Asked Questions Document Released

    

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has released a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that pulls together information regarding the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and how that law relates to school safety. The FERPA FAQ guidance came not long after they released their 2018 Student Privacy Guidance.

This FAQ consolidates FERPA-School Safety information from multiple previously released documents into a single document for ease of reference. The title of the document is "School Resource Officers (SROs), School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" and it is provided by the USED's Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

At the heart of the issue is the question of whether, due to safety concerns, schools or districts can disclose personally identifiable information (PII) to school security units, such as outside law enforcement entities, School Resource Officers (SROs), and other schools. FERPA generally prohibits the disclosure of PII, but under certain limited circumstances, FERPA does allow this information to be disclosed in order to maintain school safety.

This new FAQ helps school administrators know and understand whether it is appropriate to disclose PII due to school safety issues and with whom that information may be shared. The document is broken down into several sections:

  • General requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Disclosures of PII from students' educational records without written consent, which is broken down into five subsections: General, School Officials, Threat Assessment Teams, Law Enforcement Unity and Law Enforcement Unit Records, and Utilizing local police officers and SROs as school law enforcement unit officials
  • Other Exceptions to FERPA's General Consent Rule relevant to school safety, which is broken down into four subsections: Health or safety emergencies, Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, Transfer to new schools, and Juvenile justice system
  • Release of information not considered educational records

TransACT’s ESSA Parent Notice Collection includes seven parent notices to help meet the requirements to provide information to parents associated with FERPA and the PPRA. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the parent notices available from TransACT, please contact us at 425.977.2100, Option 3 or email at support@transact.com.

 

 

About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransACT Communications.