The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”), is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office (“FPCO”) in the U.S. Department of Education. The FPCO also enforces the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (“PPRA”). Indiana Code 20-30-5-17 creates parental rights similar to the PPRA. The FPCO’s web site includes updated FERPA regulations as well as sample forms and suggested content for annual notices required by FERPA and the PPRA. See http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html.
The Printout They Can’t Just Throw Away. In 2012, secure disposal of confidential information is a hot topic. Some of us recall the TV news story showing a reporter standing next to a dumpster behind a pharmacy and pulling out lists of who takes birth control and anti-depressants. Data tracking individual student performance is equally confidential. As school districts share information tracking individual students with program evaluators, the responsibility for a written data management and destruction agreement with each researcher is placed on the school district that originated the data. Sample agreements are on the FPCO web site.
Clearing the way for the yearbook, honor role and coverage of sports teams. The FPCO also offers a sample notice concerning a school district’s release of “directory information” under FERPA unless a parent or eligible student (age 18+) objects. Because most school districts release “directory information” by publishing yearbooks, stats sheets for student athletes and graduation programs, a FERPA “directory information” notice must be given each year. Updated FERPA regulations allow more discretion to release and not release director information. This discretion needs to mesh with the provision of the Indiana Access to Public Records Act addressing release of lists of students. See Ind. Code 5-14-3-3(f). For a superintendent or principal caught in the middle, access to directory information by military recruiters is addressed on the FPCO site and in Ind. Code 20-33-10.