How Does FERPA Work?

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This post is part of The Datamation Guide to Managing School District Records.

FERPA refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is designed to protect the rights to privacy that a student has over their school records. This act applies to all schools who receive valid federal funding under the U.S. Department of Education.

Before a student turns 18, the parents or guardians of the student are entitled to determine the privacy of their child’s records, but these rights transfer to the student at age 18 or if the student pursues education beyond high school.

In order for schools to release a student’s educational information, the law requires that the school have written permission from a parent or the eligible student. The only occasions in which the school can release information without written consent are as follows:

● When a school official is showing genuine educational interest in a student

● When the records are released to the school the student is transferring to

● When the party requesting the records are doing so to provide the student with financial aid

● When an organization is conducting a study for a school

● When the records are needed to comply with a judicial order or lawful subpoena

● When they are needed by appropriate officials during a health or safety emergency

● When they are needed by state or local authorities of the juvenile justice system

Maintaining compliance with FERPA is difficult and time-consuming when your district is working with paper records. Finding the right records among thousands takes time that you often don’t have. Paper records are also a huge security liability, highly susceptible to fire and water damage, and easily accessed by those who don’t have permission. When you scan and digitize student records with Datamation, your district becomes the perfect candidate for some of Datamation’s FERPA-compliant programs.

We work with a program called Scriborder that makes it easy and incredibly secure to request and send transcripts and other student records. Each request can be fielded directly from your school website through one portal. When the records are sent digitally, if there is a security or other issue in transit, that private student data is immediately captured. This way, student information is safe, even while it is being sent. Scriborder eliminates the worries that accompany sending out private student information.

ImageSilo is a program that allows your district to store all of your records in a digital cloud, making it safe, accessible, and organized. With five levels of security, only those with strict access can see student record information. Because the information is being stored digitally, it is also always protected from floods, fires, and any other natural disasters. At the same time, any record can be accessed with a simple keyword search, making them easy to find in the event of an emergency.