What Is Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act.The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law in the United States that protects the privacy of student education records. Enacted in 1974, FERPA applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding, including public schools, colleges, and universities.
The primary purpose of FERPA is to give parents or eligible students (students who are 18 years or older or attending a post-secondary institution) certain rights regarding the privacy of their education records and to control the disclosure of these records.
What Is Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act.
Key provisions of FERPA include:
- Right to Access Records: Parents and eligible students have the right to access their education records, which include any personally identifiable information maintained by the educational institution.
- Consent for Disclosure: Generally, educational records cannot be disclosed to third parties without the written consent of the student or parent, with some exceptions. These exceptions include sharing information with school officials with a legitimate educational interest, such as teachers, administrators, and other personnel directly involved in the student’s education.
- Directory Information: Schools often designate certain information as “directory information” (e.g., name, address, phone number) that can be released without consent. However, parents or eligible students typically have the right to opt-out of the disclosure of directory information.
- Rights Transfer to Student: When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a post-secondary institution, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student. This means the student gains control over their education records and the authority to grant or deny access to others.
- Privacy in Online Learning: FERPA’s protections extend to online learning environments and digital educational records, ensuring that students’ online information is also kept private.
- Enforcement and Penalties: Educational institutions that violate FERPA regulations risk losing their federal funding. Individuals can file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education if they believe their rights under FERPA have been violated.
FERPA is an important piece of legislation that aims to balance the need for educational institutions to maintain accurate records with the privacy rights of students and their families. It is crucial for educators and educational institutions to understand and adhere to FERPA’s requirements to protect the confidentiality of student information.