Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Protect Student Records in the US
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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law in the United States to protect the privacy of student educational records. It was enacted in 1974 and is mandatory for all educational institutions that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, including virtually all public schools and many private educational institutions.
FERPA places specific responsibilities on educational institutions to protect student records. Schools must notify parents and eligible students of their rights under FERPA and establish procedures for handling and disclosing academic records in compliance with the law. This means that teachers, school administrators, and other personnel with access to student records must be aware of and follow FERPA guidelines.The primary purpose of FERPA is to provide parents and eligible students (students over 18 years of age or those who attend a postsecondary institution) with certain rights regarding the privacy of their education records.
Key provisions of FERPA include:
- Right to inspect and review: Eligible students and parents have the right to access and review their education records held by educational institutions.
- Consent to disclose: Schools generally require written consent from eligible students and parents before disclosing education records to third parties, with certain exceptions.
- Control over directory information: Schools may disclose “directory information” without consent unless parents or eligible students opt-out.
- Right to request corrections: Parents or eligible students can request corrections to education records they believe are in violation of their privacy rights, misleading or inaccurate.
Exceptions to consent: FERPA allows for certain exceptions to the consent requirement, such as disclosure to school officials with a legitimate educational interest.
The monitoring and enforcement of FERPA are primarily carried out by the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO). The FPCO provides guidance to educational institutions on FERPA compliance and investigates complaints related to violations of the law.
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