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Pennsylvania Privacy of School Records Laws

Protecting the privacy of student education records is crucial. It helps ensure confidentiality and protect sensitive information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) plays a significant role. FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA sets standards and creates safeguards for the privacy of student information. This article explores how FERPA applies in Pennsylvania and the specific state laws that complement it. Understanding these laws is essential for students, parents, and school officials. Together, they can navigate the complex landscape of privacy rights in education.

Privacy of School Records Laws Generally

One important federal law is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Under FERPA, educational agencies must maintain the confidentiality of student education records. These records include personally identifiable information (PII). PII includes information like the student's name, address, or social security number.

School officials are only permitted to disclose this information under specific circumstances. For example, information can be shared with parental consent. Or student information can be disclosed to officials with legitimate educational interests. Law enforcement units can request access in the event of safety emergencies or per a court order or subpoena. FERPA also grants eligible students the right to access and request amendments to their own education records.

Under FERPA, educational programs may disclose certain directory information. Schools can disclose student information without obtaining prior consent. Directory information often includes basic details like a student's name and telephone number. It can also include their dates of attendance and enrollment status. But schools must inform students about the types of directory information disclosed. They also have a professional responsibility to allow students or their parents to opt-out.

Pennsylvania Privacy of School Records Laws

Pennsylvania privacy of school records laws work with federal regulations, such as FERPA. They uphold the confidentiality of student education records. These laws dictate that personally identifiable information must be safeguarded by educational agencies. Pennsylvania statutes may also provide more specifications on the handling of directory information. The state also creates procedures for disclosure in certain circumstances.

Code Section

22 Pa. Code § 31.3324 Pa. Code § 14-1409

Pennsylvania Department of Education Student Data Access and Use Policy

Who Has Access to School Records?

Access to school records is limited to authorized school officials. These officials must have a legitimate educational interest in the information. This includes teachers and administrators. It also includes any staff members involved in a student's education or well-being. Eligible students and the student's parents or legal guardians also have the right to review and access the records. This helps ensure transparency and accountability in the handling of educational information.

Agency to Contact for Complaints

You may want to file a complaint about school record privacy violations. If so, contact the U.S. Department of Education Student Privacy Policy Office. This office was formerly the Family Policy Compliance Office.

Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws

Violations can result in severe penalties at the federal level. Schools found in violation of FERPA may face the loss of federal funding. This includes both grants and loans. Additionally, those responsible for unauthorized disclosure of student records can be held responsible. This means they are subject to fines or other disciplinary actions. The U.S. Department of Education imposes these actions.

Note: State laws may change at any time through the enactment of new legislation, decisions made at higher courts, and other means. We strive to ensure the accuracy of the information on these pages. But, you also may want to contact a Pennsylvania education law attorney. Consider conducting your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Getting Legal Help

There may be instances where you feel your or your child's privacy has been violated. In these situations, you have the right to seek legal help. Lawyers can help clarify student privacy and parental rights.

Attorneys with experience in education law can provide valuable guidance when exploring your legal options. They can help with representation to protect students' rights. They can also try to obtain compliance with applicable federal and state laws. Attorneys can review subpoenas and other court orders.

Consult a qualified Pennsylvania education attorney about your potential case today.

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