With the use of video surveillance systems fully entrenched in school districts nationwide, school officials have seen an increase in parental requests for access to such videos, particularly as they relate to disciplinary matters, bullying allegations, or allegations of misconduct.  Such requests are governed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), which

With the start of the 2014-2015 school year upon us, schools routinely post the class assignments in the public domain enabling other students and/or parents access to this information.  Many parents have expressed concern that such posting before the first day of class of the student’s name, room number, and the names of the students

An April 15, 2009 letter from the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) addresses a complaint filed by a parent indicating that the school improperly disclosed the student’s private educational information to a step-parent and grandparent during a meeting at school.  If the child’s father has parental rights and permitted the disclosure to the step-mother and

Final revisions to the FERPA regulations were published December 9, 2008 in the Federal Register.  Key changes include the following:

  • "Attendance" at a school for purposes of protection under FERPA includes attendance in person or by correspondence or electronic means for purposes of students not able to be physically present in the classroom;
  • A definition of "biometric record" has been added for purposes of "directory information" that may be disclosed upon prior notification to parents and students – this would include fingerprints, voiceprints, DNA sequence, retinal and facial characteristics and handwriting;
  • "Directory information" has been restricted so that it may not include a student’s social security number or student ID number, except as specifically provided;
  • Directory information may include a student ID number if the student ID number cannot be used to gain access to educational records without the use of another access identifier such as a password or other factor known only by the user;
  • "Disclosure" of an educational record does not include disclosure to the party that provided or created the record;

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Federal District Court Case Further Clouds Issue of When Student Names May Be Redacted from Disclosed Documents

In a world where few disputes of this nature find their way into federal district court, every published decision on the issue of what constitutes an “educational record” for purposes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, sometimes known as the “Buckley Amendment”) receives a great deal of scrutiny from those in the field of education. In Wallace v. Cranbrook Educational Community, 106 LRP 57872, 2006 WL 2796135 (E.D. Mich. 2006), the Eastern District of Michigan issued an opinion that would appear to cloud even further the issue of when student names may legitimately be redacted from documents disclosed to outside third parties in order to protect student confidentiality under FERPA.

The plaintiff, Delvren Wallace, was an employee of the defendant Cranbrook Educational Community, serving in the capacity of a maintenance/equipment mover, when he was discharged for alleged improper sexual behavior toward students. The termination was justified in part by student statements which were redacted to remove the names and other personally identifiable information from the statements. 

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