5 Tips Every School Administrator Should Know About FERPA


Tip #1 - What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that provides parents the right to access their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns eighteen years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student.

Tip #2 - Which educational agencies does FERPA apply?

FERPA applies to educational agencies that receive funds from programs administered by the United States Department of Education. An “educational agency” is a public school or school district (also known as a “local educational agency” or “LEA”). Private and parochial schools at the elementary and secondary level generally do not receive these federal funds and are not subject to FERPA.

Tip #3 - What is an “education record”?

An “education record” is a record that is directly related to a student and that is maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution. These records include, but are not limited to grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, health records, and student discipline files. The information may be recorded in any way, including handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and e-mail.

Tip #4 - What is considered “directory information”?​

FERPA defines “directory information” as information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.

Tip #5 - What records are typically considered “directory information”?

“Directory information” generally includes information such as:

(1)  Student's name;

(2)  Address;

(3)  Telephone listing;

(4)  Electronic mail address;

(5)  Photograph

(6)  Grade Level

(7)  Date and place of birth;

(8)  Participation in officially recognized activities and sports; and

(9)  Height and weight of athletic team member.​

For more information about FERPA, please read Chapter 22 of the South Dakota School Law Deskbook™.