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FERPA Exception: Directory Information

FERPA Exception: Directory Information

What is directory information, and what is included under this banner?

Privacy of student education records is protected by a body of federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Under FERPA, written consent must be obtained from the parent of a student under the age of 18 (or from the student him/herself if age 18 or older, AKA “eligible student”) prior to a school’s release of student records to a third party. There are some exceptions, however. One of those exceptions is the release of “directory information."

FERPA defines “directory information” as follows:

“Directory information” means information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status (e.g.,undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors and awards received; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended.

Directory information does not include a student’s social security number or student identification (ID) number (unless certain safeguards are in place).

For a school to disclose directory information, it must first give public notice annually to parents/eligible students of (1) the type of information it intends to disclose as directory information; (2) a parent’s/eligible student’s right to restrict the disclosure of such information; and (3) the deadline for a parent/eligible student to notify the school in writing of any objection to disclosure of some or all of the designated information.

Schools do not have to disclose directory information at all, or they may restrict the disclosure of it only to specific parties or only for specific purposes. Any such limitations should be specified in the school’s annual notice of its directory information policy.

If you have any questions about compliance with a particular student record request, feel free to contact me, and I’ll help you work through it.

Terri Thomas

Legal Services

Terri Thomas serves as Director of Legal Services for OPSRC. Ms. Thomas is an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Oklahoma school law, with a primary focus on rural and smaller school districts. Prior to OPSRC, she served as legal counsel for the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools (OROS).

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