Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Discuss the rights of parents and eligible students under FERPA. Be sure to answer this prompt from your professional perspective and consider various components of the student (i.e., age of the student, those who have disabilities, those who are dually enrolled in K12 and higher education, etc.).

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was originally created under the USA PATRIOT Act as a result of the potential for terroristic acts to occur on American soil (Essex, 2016).  There has been much litigation relating to the act as individuals have become increasingly concerned with the release of their personal information to governmental agencies or other interested persons.  At the start of each new school year, all district employees where I work are presented with FERPA and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) information as it relates to our professional employment obligations and responsibilities.  Over the last few years, all district employees have received free credit protection as a major health insurance plan was compromised by the actions of a few of its respective employees.

 

Students with special education needs increase the complexity of the understandings of FERPA regulations as relating to their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  While the current act considers that students of 18 years of age to be able to consent to their own information release, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been created to address the needs and rights of students that fall under the special education category (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.).  It is important to recognize the complexity of the regulations relating to FERPA and IDEA as there are many amendments to the current acts.  The complexity increases as one considers public and private schools, as well as changes that may occur due to unforeseen situations.  In Pennsylvania, students receiving special education services are permitted to attend public schools until they are 21 years of age; the recent Covid-19 pandemic has pushed litigation to adjust the age to 22 years old due to the pandemic affecting the quality of education provided to these students.

 

Working in a public school district with a large number of students with IEPs, as well as have a large number of English as a second language learners, it becomes more important to monitor the consent for the release of information to parents and legal guardians.  According to Essex (2016), “if non-English-speaking parents are affected, the district has a responsibility to notify them in their native language” (p. 189).  While this may be troublesome for the district to be able to notify such parents of their legal rights, the district has a legal obligation to do so under the FERPA act.  It has apparently become more important for public schools to have more precise methods of relating student information to teachers as it pertains to which parent or guardian has legal consent for such information.

References

Essex, N. L. (2016). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educational

leaders (6th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

 

National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Forum guide to protecting the privacy of student information: State and local education agencies. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/privacy/section_2d.asp

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For more information on Educational Rights and Privacy Act read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Educational_Rights_and_Privacy_Act

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