FERPA: Setting the Borders to Student Information

FERPA: Setting the Borders to Student Information

The FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a federal law, which focuses on privacy of student education records. FERPA is applicable to all educational institutions and agencies, public schools and school districts (teachers,students and other personnel alike) to which funds are being received under programs of the U.S department, and therefore is governed by the U.S code.

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This act was designed to regulate disclosures of educational student records, and provides parents and eligible students rights to secure student information. A student is considered “eligible” once he/she reaches the age of 18 or more, and attends school beyond high school level. Here is an overview of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and how this act thinks of the newest cloud solutions in the modern world.

Educational Records

These are the information that are being held private by this act. This contains the confidential data of students, and is being maintained by educational institutions. Some information that can be considered as educational records are the following:

  • Name of student, parent, or any family member
  • Student SSN and other personally identifiable information
  • Address of student and other family members
  • Date and place of birth
  • Telephone Number
  • Dates of attendance
  • Honors/Awards

Rights Covered in this Act

FERPA provides confidentiality to the student information, but it can also grant parents the right to inspect student’s educational records, the right to change and amend student information (like grades, etc.) and the right to control the key person who has access on the information.

How Long Does These Rights Last?

Technically, the rights of FERPA is there as long as the student is alive. However, it may diminish if the student dies when he/she reaches the age of 18 or older. These rights are  preserved if the student dies at age that is below 18 years as the rights will be transferred to the parent of the student.

Family Policy and Compliance Office

The Family Policy and Compliance Office (FPCO) are charged with the duty of interpreting the regulations of this law and provide guidance. They are actually the ones who provides guidance letters and FAQs about FERPA. People who have issues that involves FERPA should file a complaint through the FPCO. After they receive the complaint they’re normally the ones who does the thorough investigation.

FERPA on Cloud Solutions

According to the federal register, the federal government does not prohibit the use of cloud solutions, in fact FERPA wants the states to solidify security measures in terms of protecting student data by using cloud solutions.This section is from the preamble of the amendments of FERPA regulations as follows:

“the federal government itself is moving towards a model for secure cloud computing. Regardless of whether cloud computing is contemplated, States should take care that their security plans adequately protect student data, including PII [personally identifiable information] from education records, regardless of where the data are hosted.”

Source: Family Educational Rights and Privacy, Final Rule, 76 Federal Register 75612 [December 2, 2011].

A Parental Obligation

As parents, you should give a written consent once someone tries to disclose meticulous information about your child/student. Parties involved during the disclosure of data should also be identified, as well as the records to be disclosed. It gives assurance that no one will have access on the information and it will only be seen by the parties involved.