US Department of Education Releases Guidelines for FERPA Amendment

In light of impending congressional amendments to FERPA, the US Department of Education issued guidelines on June 2, 2014 aimed to support foster care students.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law implemented in 1974 that is designed to give students and their parents the right to their information while protecting it from third parties. The act has been amended nine times since its enactment nearly 28 years ago, according to the US Department of Education.

A report released by the White House on May 1, 2014 recommended “modernizing the privacy regulatory framework that governs how student data is handled,” according to Education Week. The resources released by the US Department of Education are intended to guide congressional action towards an amendment that would provide greater support for foster care students.

First, the guidelines would allow “educational agencies and institutions to disclose students’ education records to authorized child welfare agency representatives and tribal organizations.” Secondly, they would allow such disclosure after a judicial order “without requiring additional notice to the parent,” according to the US Department of Education.

Since foster care students are forced to change schools frequently, their school records often become disrupted. These guidelines would minimize such disruptions by making it easier for child welfare agencies to access students’ school records.