What student information can be disclosed and to whom: FERPA basics- Part 3

There are numerous circumstances which allow for an institute to release an individual’s records without their consent. This article highlights discipline hearings, violations and crimes, and law enforcement records.

This article and previous articles are a part of a series by Michigan State University Extension that are a synopsis of the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA General Guidance for Students. FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office in the U.S. Department of Education. All schools who receive funds as part of the Department of Education are required to comply with Family Education Rights and Privacy Act Guidelines regarding disclosure of information. Parochial and private schools at the elementary and secondary levels generally do not receive such funding and are not subject to FERPA.

What student information can be disclosed and to whom: FERPA basics- Part 1 and 2 cite circumstances in which a school can disclose student records. Additional parties and conditions under which FERPA does allow schools to disclose student records without consent include:

Violation of any federal, state or local law by the student
Schools may disclose information to the parents of a student who commits a violation even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent. Information may also be disclosed to state and local authorities.

Violation of any policy of the institute governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances
Schools may disclose information to parents if it is determined the student has committed a disciplinary violation of the institute and is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure.

Judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
Compliance with these requests for personally identifiable information without consent is allowed and mandatory.

Disciplinary hearings of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense
Records of an alleged perpetrator and the final results of a disciplinary hearing with respect to the alleged crime may be released to the victim.

  • Records may be released to any third party regarding the final results* of a disciplinary proceeding may only be disclosed if the student who is the alleged perpetrator is found to have violated the school’s rules or policies.

*The disclosure of the final results only includes the name of the alleged perpetrator, the violation committed and any sanction imposed against the alleged perpetrator. The disclosure must not include the name of any other student, including a victim or witness, without the written consent of that other student.

Disclosure of law enforcement records

A law enforcement unit is any individual, office, department, division or other component of a school that is officially designated by the school to enforce any local, state or federal law. It is also authorized to refer the perpetrator to appropriate authorities.

Law enforcement unit records are not education records and are not subject to the privacy protections of FERPA. In addition, the law enforcement unit may refuse to provide an eligible student with an opportunity to inspect and review law enforcement unit records. Law enforcement unit records to third parties without the eligible student’s prior written consent may also be disclosed.

This is the third article in a series that provide insight into disclosure guidelines for FERPA. For information on FERPA, visit http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html. MSU Extension has additional information as well.

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