laws cover student educational records?
A: Student education
records are protected by federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act (FERPA), and Ohio’s student privacy law (Ohio Revised Code § 3319.321). These laws are similar in
application, with some minor differences.
do the laws require?
A: FERPA and Ohio’s student privacy law have
two primary functions in common. Both laws: 1) guarantee parental access to
education records, and 2) prohibit the disclosure of education records to third
parties without parental consent.
is considered an “education record?”
A: An “education record” includes records
which: 1) contain information directly related to a student, and 2) are
maintained by a school. This could include birth certificates, names of
parents, immunization records, grades, disciplinary records, etc.
is access to education records guaranteed?
A: Both FERPA and Ohio’s student privacy law
require schools to provide parental access to the education records of children
under age 18. Parents have the right to see everything in the student’s
education record, except information about other students or information
protected by another state or federal law. Schools must comply with a request
for access within a reasonable period of time, but in no case more than 45 days
after the request.
are education records protected from third parties?
A: Both laws prohibit the disclosure of “personally
identifiable information” in education records to third parties without the
prior written consent of the parent. Personally identifiable information generally
includes any information that would make the student’s identity traceable.
there exceptions that allow disclosure without consent?
A: Yes. Several exceptions allow disclosure
without parental consent. For example, schools may release records to school
officials with “legitimate educational interests,” such as disclosure of
student records to the student’s teacher or to an in-school therapist treating
Other exceptions allow schools to
release education records to a school where the student is transferring, to
persons acting with a subpoena, or to health and safety personnel during an
is directory information?
A: Through its
policies, school districts may designate certain student information as “directory
information.” Directory information generally includes information that could
be found in a school yearbook, playbill or athletic program, such as a
student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major
field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports,
dates of attendance and graduation, and awards received.
Directory information may be
disclosed without prior written consent. School districts must provide public
notice of designated categories of directory information and allow a reasonable
time for parents to “opt-out” of the release of this information.
students have rights to review their educational records before they turn age
A: Not really. Although
both laws allow elementary and
secondary schools to give students under age 18 the right to inspect and review
their own educational records, the schools are not required to give minors this
right. Parents, however, must be allowed to inspect and review their minor
children’s education records.
a student have the right to view his or her records at age 18?
A: Yes. All rights granted to parents under
FERPA and Ohio law transfer to the student when the student reaches age 18, or when
the student starts attending a postsecondary institution. This includes the
right to access education records and to consent to the release of education
the parents of a college-age student access their child’s education records?
A: Maybe. A postsecondary institution may
provide parents with access to their child’s education records, without the child’s
consent, if the parents claim the student as a dependent for IRS tax purposes. A
college or university may also notify parents of students under age 21 if the
student has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of
alcohol or a controlled substance.
schools are required to comply with these student record laws?
A: The federal FERPA law applies to all
educational agencies receiving federal funds under any program administered by
the U.S. Department of Education. This includes all
public school districts and
most private and public postsecondary institutions. Some private schools may
not receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education and, therefore, may not
be subject to FERPA. Ohio’s student privacy law only applies to public schools
divorce affect a parent’s right to see his or her child’s educational records?
A: A parent who is separated, divorced
and/or not the student’s residential parent is permitted access to any records
under the same terms and conditions as the residential parent, provided that
the parents are not subject to any parenting agreement or court order to the
contrary. Separated, divorced and/or non-residential parents may also provide
the written parental consent to release records, barring a written parenting
agreement or court order to the contrary.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar
Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Columbus attorney Mark A. Weiker of Albeit Weiker, LLP. The
column offers general information about the law. Seek an attorney’s advice before applying
this information to a legal problem.
Labels: education, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, student privacy law, students