The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. 

    Read below to learn more about FERPA and how it affects your child. 

    What is FERPA and how does it affect my family?
    FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she either 
    •reaches the age of 18 or 
    •attends a school beyond the high school level. 

    A students is considered to be an "eligible student" if he or she meets one of these criteria. 

    What rights does FERPA provide to parents and eligible students?
    The parent or eligible student has the right to each of the following: 
    •inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school: Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless- for reasons such as geographic distance- it is impossible for the parent or eligible student to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies. 
    •request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading: If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to 
    •request a formal hearing: After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to 
    •place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

    Under FERPA, under what circumstances will the school release my child's student information without my written permission? 
    Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. 

    However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions: 
    •School officials with a legitimate educational interest; 
    •Other schools to which a student is transferring; 
    •Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes; 
    •Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student; 
    •Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school; 
    •Accrediting organizations; 
    •To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; 
    •Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and 
    •State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

    What is "directory information" and how or when is it shared? 
    Unless the parent or eligible student specifically makes a written request to the contrary, schools may disclose "directory information" without consent.  

    Directory information includes the student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. 

    However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and provide parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school. 

    Each year, Berkeley County School District schools send home a Denial of Student Information Release form which clearly describes FERPA and allows the student or eligible student to prevent the release if directory information. 

    I have more questions about FERPA.  How may I learn more? 
    To learn more about FERPA, visit the U. S. Department of Education's website.  For additional information, please call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (voice). Individuals who use TDD may call 1-800-437-0833. Or you may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at 400 Maryland Avenue, SW in Washington, D.C. 20202-8520.