Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC Sec. 1232g) is a federal law that protects the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in protected education records, and guarantees parents and eligible students access to the student records.
“Eligible students” are those students over eighteen (18) years of age to whom FERPA rights are transferred; however, under certain circumstances—such as when the student remains a dependent for federal income tax purposes—the parent of an eighteen (18) year old student is still entitled to access education records even after the student turns eighteen (18) years of age.
Specifically, FERPA rights include:
- The right to inspect and review a student’s education records within forty-five (45) days of the date the district receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the school principal or other appropriate school official a written request that identifies the records they wish to inspect. The principal will make arrangements for access and notify the parents or eligible students of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- The right to request an amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes to be inaccurate or misleading. A written request should be submitted to the school principal clearly identifying the part of the records for which a change is requested and explaining why it is considered to be inaccurate or misleading. If the Kent School District decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the Kent School District will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding their request for the amendment. Additional information regarding hearing procedures will be provided to the parents or eligible student when they are notified of their right to a hearing.
- With certain exceptions authorized by FERPA, the right to consent before disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in a student’s education records.
One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with a legitimate education interest. A school official has a “legitimate educational interest” if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
A “school official” is:
- A person employed by the Kent School District as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member.
- A person serving on the District’s Board of Directors.
- A volunteer who assists another school official in performing tasks or who serves on school or District committees.
- A person or company with whom the Kent School District has contracted to perform a specific task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, therapist, or personnel contracted for security purposes or to be part of the law enforcement unit).
- Any other contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other outside party to whom the District has outsourced institutional services or functions that it would otherwise use employees to perform.
Individuals in these categories are under the direct control of the Kent School District regarding their access to protected educational records and are subject to the same conditions governing the use and disclosure of education records that apply to any other school employee.
As allowed by federal law, the Kent School District will also forward education records without seeking consent of the parents or student to another school or school district that has requested the records in which the student intends to enroll or is already enrolled.
Release of Student Directory Information
A category of information contained in student records is designated under FERPA as “directory information.” Unlike other education records that require consent before disclosure, directory information may be released unless the parent or eligible student specifically objects to disclosure. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the Kent School District to include this type of information in certain school publications, including drama, musical, or sports programs; the annual yearbook; graduation programs; or photographs on a school or District website.
The Kent School District has designated the following information as directory information:
- A student’s name.
- A student’s address, telephone listing, and email address.
- The student’s image or likeness in pictures, videotape, film, or other medium.
- The student’s date and place of birth.
- The student’s course of study.
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
- Height and weight of a member of an athletic team.
- Dates of attendance.
- The most recent school attended by the student.
- Degrees and awards received.
If the circumstances of disclosure to a third party would confirm or reveal that a student is a person with a disability, federal and state law prohibits the release of even directory information without written consent of a parent of eligible student.
If a parent or eligible student desires that directory information not be released, he or she should notify the principal of the school where the student attends.
Objecting to Release of Information to Military Recruiters
Federal law requires disclosure of a student’s personal information to military recruiters upon request unless parent(s), guardian(s), or an eligible student have advised the school district that student information cannot be disclosed without prior written consent. If a parent or eligible student does not want the Kent School District to disclose such personal information, the school building must be notified in writing.
Student Transcript Requests Under FERPA
With one exception noted below, a school shall provide or make available to a student or a student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) a copy of the student’s official transcript. Release of a student’s transcript to any other persons may only occur upon written authorization of an eligible student, a student’s parent(s), or guardian(s), as set forth in FERPA.
High school students should always keep in mind that prospective employers may request to see transcripts and the decision to release a transcript can be an important part of the process of applying for employment (see WAC 392-415-090).
Under RCW 28A.635.060(1) and 28A.225.330(2), a school may withhold the official transcript of any student who transfers to a new school who has not paid any outstanding fines or fees, including such fees associated with damage caused by the student to school property.
If a parent or eligible student believes that a school official has not complied with FERPA requirements, the parent or eligible student may file a complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office at the following address:
Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920