Amended FERPA Legislation to be Introduced in Congress

Published: April 19, 2007

PITTSBURGH – In response to the Virginia Tech massacre, Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) says he will be introducing legislation to revise the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.

FERPA was designed to protect the confidentiality of student records and define under what circumstances parents and other interested parties can have access to student information.

According to a statement just released by Murphy, however, “This definition is vague and left to various interpretations at schools. There are many examples where information was not released to parents or guardians regarding a student’s mental health, which led to miscommunications and withholding of vital information that could have prevented suicides, assaults and other crimes. Schools are hesitant to release information for fear of legal action. In my 25 years of practice as a psychologist, I have known many instances where these problems arose.”

Murphy said he will be introducing legislation that will more clearly define circumstances where colleges and universities can release information to parents, including risk for suicide, homicide or physical assault.

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The bill would hold harmless colleges and universities, who after consultations with qualified mental health professionals and acting in the best interest of the student, could release information to parents or guardians.

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