The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits a school from disclosing
personally identifiable information from students education records without the consent of a parent or eligible student, unless an exception to FERPAs general consent rule applies. In some emergency situations, schools may only need to disclose properly designated directory information on students that provide general contact information. In other scenarios, school officials may believe that a health or safety emergency exists and more specific information on students should be disclosed to appropriate parties. Understanding the options available under FERPA empowers school officials to act quickly and decisively when concerns arise. FERPA is not intended to be an obstacle in addressing emergencies and protecting the safety of students.
FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department of Education (Department). In this guidance, when we refer to school districts, schools, or postsecondary institutions we mean educational agencies and institutions subject to FERPA. Private schools at the elementary and secondary school levels generally do not receive funds from the Department and are, therefore, not subject to FERPA. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their childrens education records at elementary
and secondary schools that are subject to FERPAs requirements. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution at any age (eligible student). Under FERPA, a parent or eligible student must provide a signed and dated written consent before a school discloses personally identifiable information from the students education records. 34 CFR § 99.30. See 34 CFR § 99.3 for the definition of personally identifiable information. Exceptions to the general consent requirement are set forth in § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. The term education records is defined as those records that are: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution. See 34 CFR § 99.3 for the definition 2 of education records and a list of records that are not included in the definition. Accordingly, all records, including immunization and other health records, as well as records on services provided to
students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and records on services and accommodations provided to students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that are directly related to a student and maintained by a school are education records under FERPA.
The University provides guidance to school officials on how FERPA applies to
disclosures of students personally identifiable information that relate to natural or man-made disasters that affect students and their families. This guidance explains the various provisions in FERPA that might relate to and permit such disclosures, and addresses how FERPA applies to schools working with other agencies in emergency preparedness activities.