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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Definition

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law in the United States enacted in 1974 that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA grants parents and eligible students the right to access, amend, and control the disclosure of information from these records.

Phonetic

The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” is:FAM-uh-lee eh-joo-KAY-shuh-nuhl RYTZ and PRIV-uh-see AKT

Key Takeaways

  1. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ education records, giving parents and eligible students the right to access and control their records.
  2. Under FERPA, schools are required to seek written consent from parents or eligible students before disclosing personally identifiable information from education records, except in certain circumstances where the law permits or requires disclosure without consent.
  3. FERPA also grants parents and eligible students the right to request and correct inaccuracies in their education records, ensuring accurate and complete documentation of students’ academic achievements and maintaining fairness in educational decision-making.

Importance

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to protect the privacy of student educational records and grants specific rights to both students and their parents.

This federal law is essential because it ensures that personal information and educational achievements are kept confidential, safeguarding students’ and families’ rights to privacy in an increasingly interconnected world.

By emphasizing the importance of consent, FERPA allows the disclosure of records only under specific conditions or with written permission from the individual involved.

Consequently, this regulation fosters trust in the educational system while reducing the chances of unauthorized access and misuse of sensitive academic data.

Explanation

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) serves as a critical regulatory framework, designed to protect the privacy and maintain the confidentiality of student education records. Established in 1974, FERPA ensures that educational institutions uphold the rights of students and their parents, to gain access to their own academic records and limiting unauthorized disclosures.

By addressing issues of accessibility, disclosure, and consent, the Act plays a vital role in maintaining the balance between information sharing and safeguarding the privacy of students, for schools, colleges, and universities that receive federal funding in the United States. One of the primary objectives of FERPA is to give parents and eligible students the right to review and inspect their education records.

Additionally, FERPA offers mechanisms to request changes or corrections in the event of any inaccuracies. As part of this protection, the Act also mandates that educational institutions must seek written consent from the eligible student, or their parents if they’re under 18, before disclosing academic records to third parties.

Exceptions apply to certain situations, such as legal enforcement and educational research. Consequently, FERPA serves as a cornerstone policy in providing protection for educational privacy, promoting trust and transparency between educational institutions, students, and their families.

Examples of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a United States federal law that grants parents certain rights regarding their children’s educational records, and those rights transfer to students once they turn 18 or enter a postsecondary institution. Here are three real-world examples of how FERPA is applied:

Parent requests access to a student’s records: Under FERPA, a parent has the right to request access to their child’s educational records and request corrections if they find any discrepancies or errors. For example, if a parent wants to review their child’s grades, attendance, or other educational records, the school must provide them with the opportunity to do so within 45 days of the request.

Protecting students’ information from unauthorized individuals: FERPA prohibits schools from disclosing personally identifiable information from a student’s education records without the consent of the parent or eligible student, except under certain specific circumstances. For example, if a student participates in a school play, and the drama teacher wants to share the student’s contact information with a local community theater without the consent of the parents, doing so would be a violation of FERPA regulations.

Handling student records during a transfer: If a student transfers to a new school, FERPA requires that the new school request the student’s education records from the previous school. Before the records are transferred, both parents and students have the right to review and request corrections to the records if necessary. This helps ensure that accurate and updated information is transferred to the new school to best support the student’s educational needs.These examples highlight how FERPA protects students’ privacy, ensures that parents maintain control over their children’s educational records, and provides a framework for educational institutions to handle student records responsibly.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) FAQ

What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law in the United States that protects the privacy of student education records by limiting who can access them. It grants students certain rights with respect to their education records, such as the right to inspect and review their records, request the amendment of inaccurate or misleading information, and consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information.

Who is protected under FERPA?

FERPA protects all students enrolled at educational institutions that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This includes K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, such as colleges and universities. FERPA rights begin when a student starts attending the institution and generally continue until the student graduates, withdraws, or is no longer in attendance.

What records are protected under FERPA?

FERPA protects any records, files, or documents that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational institution. This includes, but is not limited to, academic records, transcripts, disciplinary records, and financial aid information.

How can a student access their education records?

Under FERPA, students have the right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of submitting a written request to the appropriate school official. The request should identify the specific record(s) the student wishes to review. The school must comply with the request and arrange a time for the student to inspect the records.

Can a parent access their child’s education records?

Under FERPA, parents can access their child’s education records if the child is under 18 years of age and not attending a postsecondary institution. Once a student turns 18 or attends a postsecondary institution, the FERPA rights transfer to the student. However, parents may still access the records if the student is claimed as a dependent for tax purposes or if the student has provided written consent.

How can a student correct inaccurate or misleading information in their education records?

If a student believes their education records contain inaccurate or misleading information, they can submit a written request to the school to amend the record. The request should clearly identify the part of the record they wish to change and specify the reason the information is incorrect or misleading. If the school agrees, the record will be amended. If not, the student has the right to a formal hearing. If the outcome of the hearing still does not favor the student, they can insert a statement in their record commenting on the information and stating their disagreement.

Related Technology Terms

  • Student Privacy
  • Education Records
  • Parental Access
  • Directory Information
  • FERPA Compliance

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