Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), school districts must provide parents/guardians and eligible students (students at least 18 years of age) with annual notice of their rights to inspect and review education records, amend education records, consent to disclose personally identifiable information in education records, and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(a)(2). The notice must include the procedure to request and review education records, as well as a statement that records may be disclosed to school officials without prior written consent. This statement should define a school official and what constitutes a legitimate educational interest providing the basis for accessing a student’s educational records. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(a)(3). Notice may be provided in any way that is reasonably likely to inform parents of their rights, and must effectively notify parents who have a primary or home language other than English and parents/guardians or eligible students who are disabled. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(b). The annual notification may be published by various means, including any of the following: in a schedule of classes; in a student handbook; in a calendar of school events; on the school's website (though this should not be the exclusive means of notification); in the student newspaper; and/or posted in a central location at the school or various locations throughout the school. See the Department of Education’s Protecting Student Privacy FERPA General Guidance for Students (April 2020) for information about FERPA. For an additional resource also see the FERPA Model Notification of Rights for Elementary & Secondary Schools (April 2020).
Under FERPA, school districts may disclose directory information if they have given public notice to parents/guardians and eligible students of what information has been designated as directory information, and when and how parents/guardians and eligible students may opt out of allowing the district to disclose their directory information. 34 C.F.R. § 99.37(a). Finally, under ESEA, school districts must provide notice that they routinely release the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary students to military recruiters unless parents opt out in writing. 20 U.S.C. § 7908. School districts may provide this notice as part of their general FERPA notice. The Protecting Student Privacy website provides a template notice for notifying parents and eligible students, which can be found here: FERPA Model Notice for Directory Information.
FERPA regulations permit LEAs and schools to adopt limited directory information policies that allow the disclosure of directory information to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both. 34 C.F.R § 99.37(d). It is up to individual LEAs and schools to decide whether to adopt limited directory information policies and how to implement them.
The regulations’ directory information exception makes clear that parents/guardians and eligible students may not, by opting out of the disclosure of directory information, prevent an LEA or school from requiring a student to wear or present a student ID or badge. 34 C.F.R. § 99.37(c). While the Department does not require LEAs or schools to establish policies mandating that students wear badges, these are individual decisions that LEAs and schools should make, considering local circumstances.
The U.S. Department of Education recommends that districts post all FERPA and PPRA (see below) notices, including the directory information policy, on their websites. For more information, see the U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center’s Transparency Best Practices for Schools and Districts (p. 5). The Department provides additional guidance on FERPA at https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/, including: