The school keeps a lot of records about your child—report cards, disciplinary actions, test results and other information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects your rights to:
“FERPA guarantees you the right to see all the educational records the school maintains on your child.”
- See your child’s educational records
- Request corrections to the records
- Decide who else can see the records
You also can authorize someone else, such as a lawyer, to review records for you.
But the law doesn’t stop there. Under FERPA, you have additional rights:
- You have the right to see your child’s records within 45 days of when the school receives your request to see them.
- You have the right to get a photocopy of your child’s educational records if it’s not possible for you to review them at the school. (The school may charge for copies.)
- Your have the right to ask the school to correct any record you think is inaccurate or misleading. If the school doesn’t correct the record, you have the right to a formal hearing.
- If the record still hasn’t been corrected after the hearing, you have the right to put a statement in the record. The statement gives your take on the information that was disputed.
The Limitations of FERPA
Sometimes the school is allowed to release your child’s records without your consent. Under FERPA, schools can release records without your permission to certain types of parties, including:
- School officials with a legitimate educational interest (for example, an academic advisor who needs to review what courses a student has completed in order to give advice)
- A school your child is transferring to
- Appropriate officials in health and safety emergencies
- Juvenile justice system authorities
Also, FERPA only applies to schools that receive certain kinds of federal funding. If your child attends a private school that doesn’t receive that funding, your child wouldn’t have FERPA protections.
What Happens When Your Child Turns 18?
- When your child starts college or turns 18, all of the rights you had under FERPA now belong to your child.
- Because of FERPA, colleges sometimes can’t release educational records to parents unless the student gives written consent first.
- FERPA doesn’t close out parents completely. If you claim your child as a dependent on your tax return, the school may share your child’s educational records with you—without your child’s written consent.
- FERPA grants important legal rights to parents and children. Understanding more about which laws do what can help you continue to advocate for your child.