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The Education Privacy Act

Identity Theft

In the U.S., the education privacy act is a law that limits the public accessibility of student education records. Formally known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), there are many specifications within this Act that are worth reviewing. Keep reading to learn how the education privacy act affects the dissemination of your child's personal data.

Who Can View a Child's Private Education Records?

Broadly speaking, a child's educational records are not viewable by anyone unless the school gets written permission from a legal guardian. Written permission can also be provided by the student, provided he or she is 18 years or older.

However, there are several circumstances in which school records can be viewed without the need to seek parental approval. Individuals who may be able to legally do this (provided there is legitimate reason to do so) include:

  • School officials
  • Other schools (in the event of school transfer)
  • School audit and evaluation officials
  • Financial aid representatives
  • Organizations that conduct research studies at a school
  • Accredited organizations
  • State and local authorities in conjunction with subpoenas

Publicly Available Educational Records

It should be noted that limited data included in a child's student records might be made publicly available. Such information includes name of the student, address, phone number, date and place of birth, honors/awards and dates of school attendance. Typically, this information is only disseminated for directory purposes. However, other reasons may also spur a school to give out such information.

Limitations of publicly available records indicate that a school must give fair notice to parents prior to disseminating directory information. Additionally, parents have the right to request that a student's directory info not be disclosed to the public. This is typically done at the beginning of the school year.

Other Parental Rights Regarding Student Records

The education privacy act also states that parents have the right to review a student's school record and request corrections in the event any inclusions are found to be misleading or inaccurate. In the event that corrections are requested, a formal hearing may be held to allow a parent to plead his or her case for change. If such a hearing fails to sway a school's decision to change the info, then the parent has the right to include a written statement within the educational record in response to the controversial topic.

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