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Student Privacy 101: FERPA for Parents and Students

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act, or FERPA Is a federal law, which applies to Educational institutions and agencies Such as schools, school districts, colleges
and universities To which funds have been made available under Any program administered by the Secretary
of Education. The purpose of FERPA is to Protect the privacy of parents and students With regard to education records Under section 444 Of the General Education Provisions Act, as
amended WOW!!! Its easy to get confused With all that legal language. Let’s try that again in plain English! The truth is Data about us is everywhere! Its collected when we shop, take a vacation, Look at a web page or send an email. You see FERPA is a Federal Law That applies to most schools, colleges and
universities. Its meant to protect All that identifiable information about students In records that are kept by schools, AND it provides the right for you To access that information, To seek to correct it, And generally to consent to its disclosure. Lets take a closer look at what that means. Today is Patrick’s first day of Kindergarten. As Patrick moves through the education system His schools accumulate data such as his grades, Learning disabilities or special needs information And, ahem disciplinary information. As Patrick takes tests to see how he is progressing, His scores are protected by FERPA. FERPA requires schools And state and local educational agencies To keep the information That came from Patrick’s records private, And get his parent’s written consent Before sharing it with anyone else. There are some exceptions, but the general
rule is Patrick’s records are confidential. Students don’t attend school anonymously, So schools routinely share some basic information
about students, Called directory information. If a school is going to share directory information, It must notify parents and students who are
18 or over Or who attend post-secondary institutions. For example, Patrick’s school yearbook Contains his name, grade level and photograph. That is okay, because his school Designated these items as directory information And published its policy on its website, And Patrick’s parents haven’t opted out. FERPA also requires schools Provide Patrick’s parents the ability to Review his records to make sure they are accurate. Patrick’s applying to college. He and his parents review his high school
transcript And discover the school has gotten Patrick
confused With another student who has lower grades. This isn’t good! FERPA not only gives his parents the right
to See the records, but also to Request that the school correct mistakes. If Patrick’s parents and the school Disagree on the accuracy of the info, FERPA gives Patrick’s parents the right to
request a hearing. Colleges and Universities are also required
to Protect student information under FERPA, But the rules change a little bit. Meet Lisa, a high school graduate Who is headed off to college. Hooray! While Lisa was in elementary, middle and high
school And under the age of 18, FERPA allowed her parents access to her education
records. Now Lisa is entering college, and her FERPA
rights Transfer from her parents to her. Her parents wonder, but wait a minute I’m paying the bills here And now I cant see how she is doing academically? Since Lisa’s parents claim her As a dependent on their federal tax return, Her parents can still see her education records
ñ If Lisa’s college chooses to release them. FERPA doesn’t REQUIRE schools to release records; It only ALLOWS this. You may be wondering, how do I find out more about How FERPA affects me or my child? To start, look for your school or school district’s FERPA policy on its web site. Or, ask your principal or school administrative
staff About your rights under FERPA. Visit the Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office website For answers to frequently asked questions
on privacy, Training and guidance for parents and students On FERPA rights and protections.

About James Carlton

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