The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to provide students with control over the storage and use of personal information collected by educational institutions. President Ford signed the legislation into law in 1974, well before the digital revolution. The Department of Education has subsequently issued and updated FERPA regulations multiple times to address how schools, students, and vendors must handle student information in a digital age.
As a California FERPA lawyer, we provide students, parents, vendors, and educational institutions with guidance on the law. Make no mistake – FERPA is complicated, particularly since many sections of the law do not translate well to a world of digital record keeping and communications. How schools can partner with third party vendors to provide online solutions to students is an area of particular emphasis given students necessarily share personal information during their interactions with teachers. Can an app vendor store this information? Can the app vendor use this information to market to the students of the school? Such issues require careful analysis.
And what about the rights of parents? The Supreme Court has ruled parents cannot bring lawsuits against schools under FERPA. However, we often represent parents and students in preparing and presenting findings of violations to educational institutions to generate compliance with the law. In the vast majority of cases, we can successfully force schools, districts, and higher education facilities to live up to their FERPA obligations. If not, we work with parents to motivate the Department of Education to investigate and penalize non-compliant educational institutions.
As a full-service law firm, we represent parents, students, vendors and educational institutions on a variety of FERPA matters. Contact us to discuss your FERPA issue.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.