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Vermont Privacy of School Records Laws

Privacy laws regarding student data are essential to protect sensitive information. They help ensure the confidentiality of educational records. In Vermont, these laws govern how schools handle students' personally identifiable information (PII). Understanding these laws is helpful for parents, students, educators, and school officials. Together, they can help safeguard the privacy rights of students pursuant to federal and state law. Let's explore Vermont's privacy laws related to students in more detail below.

Privacy of School Records Laws Generally

One of the primary federal laws governing student privacy is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. Under federal law, FERPA grants parents and eligible students the right to inspect and review their education records. They can request amendments to inaccurate or misleading information. The student or the student's parent can also consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII).

School officials are required to protect the confidentiality of student education records. They can only disclose information under certain exceptions outlined in FERPA. These exceptions include disclosures to school officials with legitimate educational interests. They also include disclosures to law enforcement officers under certain circumstances. Examples include safety emergencies or court orders and subpoenas.

Directory information includes non-sensitive information about students. This information can be disclosed without consent unless the student or parent opts out. This typically includes items such as a student's name, honors and awards, and dates of enrollment.

Vermont Privacy of School Records Laws

In addition to federal law, Vermont has its own privacy laws. These laws supplement FERPA protections. Vermont's laws ensure that student data privacy is upheld at the state level. They provide more safeguards for the privacy of student information. The Vermont Agency of Education oversees compliance with these laws. This agency works in conjunction with educational institutions to protect student privacy.

One significant aspect of Vermont law is its provisions regarding the disclosure of PII. Vermont law restricts the release of sensitive data like social security numbers and health information without proper consent. Let's take a look at the codified laws in the Vermont Statutes Annotated (V.S.A.).

Code Section 1 V.S.A. Section 317VSA Title 9 Section 2443
Who Has Access to School Records?

In Vermont, access to student education records and student information is limited to authorized individuals. These individuals must have a legitimate educational interest in obtaining the information. Or they must have an interest that is granted by law. This includes school officials and third-party service providers that may have access to student information. Parents of minor students generally have access to their child's education records. Eligible students (those who have reached age 18 or attend a postsecondary institution) have rights. They can access their own records. Law enforcement agencies may also access student records under specific circumstances, such as a subpoena or court order.

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. Persons responsible for unauthorized disclosure of student records can also be held responsible. This means they are subject to fines or other disciplinary actions. The U.S. Department of Education imposes these penalties.

Note: State laws surrounding the issues of student privacy rights are constantly changing. They 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 Vermont education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching. Some attorneys offer free consultations.

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 guidance and representation to protect students' rights. They can also help ensure compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and school district policies. Attorneys can review subpoenas and other court orders. They can provide valuable guidance when exploring your legal options.

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

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