The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Educational records or school records include all materials directly related to a student which a school maintains. Records and notes maintained by a teacher, administrator, or school psychologist for his/her own use, and which are not available to others are exempted from this definition.
Parent/Eligible Student Rights
Parents have certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom these rights have transferred are "eligible students.”
- Inspect and review student's education records.
A parent wishing to inspect and/or review the educational records of his/her child should make the request to the school principal/designee. If specific individuals are needed to explain or interpret the records, the principal/designee will make arrangements for them to be present. Parents must inform the principal/designee in writing if they have given permission for a representative to inspect/review the records.
The principal/designee may provide a copy of any record requested within a reasonable amount of time. In some instances, a reasonable copying fee may be requested; however, no fee will be charged to search and retrieve the information. The principal is responsible for maintaining a signed statement by the parent as to the records received.
- Seek amendment of the student's education records that the parent or eligible student believes to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights.
The parent or eligible student seeking to amend must make their request for amendment in writing to the principal/designee of the child’s school. The principal and/or other appropriate school district officials will review the request and notify the parents of their acceptance or refusal to amend. If the district accepts the request to amend, the amendment will be made to the educational record and the parents shall be informed of the action. If the request to amend is denied by the school district, the parents will be informed in writing of this refusal and of their right to request a hearing. If, after the hearing, the school district still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student will be allowed to place a statement in the record setting forth his or her views. This statement will remain in the student’s record for as long as it is maintained.
- Consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
Schools will treat each student’s educational records as confidential and primarily for school use. In most circumstances, schools will obtain written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, the schools/district may disclose student information without written parental consent in the following instances:
- To school officials that have legitimate educational interests in the information. This would include teachers, administrators, board members, support or clerical staff, school attorney, nurses, counselors, human resources staff, information systems specialists, school security personnel, contractors, vendors, consultants, volunteers or other parties to whom the school has entrusted institutional services or functions. These persons have a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review or access an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
- To another school district in which the student seeks or intends to enroll.
- When the information has been designated as directory information. River Trails School District discloses directory information without prior parental permission. Directory information includes:
date/place of birth,
parents’/guardian's names, addresses, electronic email addresses, telephone numbers
photographs, video or digital images
participation in officially recognized activities and sports, photographs,
academic awards, degrees, and honors
major field of study
dates of attendance,
River Trails School District provides notice of directory information through the district handbook. The school/district will not release directory information to any person or agency for commercial use. Parents or eligible students have the right to refuse to permit the designation of any or all of the categories of personally identifiable information with respect to the student as directory information. To refuse permission for the release of any or all directory information, the parent must notify the principal/designee in writing and must state what information should not be classified as directory information. The notification will become a part of the student’s education record. The principal/designee is responsible for notifying appropriate personnel of the request.
- To the parents of an “eligible student” if the student is a “dependent student” as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.
- To specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes, appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student, organization conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school, accrediting organizations, to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies, and state and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are not adequately implemented by the school district.
Complaint should be submitted in writing to:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520