Test Your FERPA Knowledge: Can This Student Info Be Released?

Here are 9 practical scenarios in which a request is made to access student information. Would providing the data be a FERPA violation?

Test Your FERPA Knowledge: Can This Student Info Be Released?

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education released joint guidance on when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) apply to schools, colleges and healthcare facilities, where FERPA and HIPAA intersect, and what student educational and health records can be shared and under what circumstances.

Last month, Campus Safety hosted a webinar, led by security consultant and emergency preparedness expert Gary Sigrist, to dive deeper into the topic. Gary discussed what is allowed under FERPA — particularly as it relates to directory information and education records — in order to help campuses reduce liability and avoid possible fines and lawsuits.

Directory information is student data that would generally not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if given out, such as a student’s name, address, phone number, date of birth, and participation in school sports or activities. Under FERPA, schools must tell parents and eligible students annually what is included in directory information and give them a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose some or all of their directory information.

Education records are records directly related to a student that are maintained by an educational agency or institution. These records can include grades, student discipline files, transcripts, class lists, class schedules, health records and financial information, among other things.

Gary provided viewers with several scenarios in which a third party requested directory information or education records and discussed why the student data could or couldn’t be shared. He has graciously provided several additional scenarios to help readers improve upon their FERPA knowledge as it relates to student records.

Could the following scenarios lead to a FERPA violation if student information is shared? You decide. Click HERE to review the scenarios.

P.S., I’d like to quickly thank Gary, and so many of our other readers and contributors like him, who regularly and selflessly take time out of their insanely hectic lives to provide us with practical and useful content — all in the name of making campuses safer. The campus security industry is filled with special, kind and giving people and we’re just happy and thankful to play a small part in it.

About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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2 responses to “Test Your FERPA Knowledge: Can This Student Info Be Released?”

  1. Randy says:

    If a “An incident has occurred at the school and the school allows news media on the grounds as the school day ends to interview staff, students, and parents. Could this lead to a FERPA violation?” and the answer is “It is possible the child could be filmed during the interviews and the non-custodial parent may see the child on the news. It is advisable to not allow the news media on the school grounds during the school day.”

    This is stated as a violation and if so, are students that record, video incidents at or on school grounds with out consent (and the parents, guardian have opted out of release of information) are also in violation of FERPA?

    • Amy Rock says:

      Hi Randy,

      We received this response directly from Gary:

      “FERPA only controls the actions of the school or district, not the students. If there is a fight in a school cafeteria that is recorded by the school’s CCTV and is used by the school for disciplinary action, it is a school record and the school cannot release the video to the media. However, if a student records the video and shares it with the media, this would not be considered a FERPA violation because it was not a school video.”

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