US DOE Issues FAQs On FERPA and School Security

The U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) recently issued a guidance document addressing how the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) applies to a school district’s disclosure of protected student information to law enforcement and other schools.

While FERPA generally requires written consent from a parent or eligible student before a student’s personally identifiable information (PII) can be disclosed, there is some flexibility under certain circumstances in order to maintain student safety.

According to the guidance:

  • FERPA affords schools and districts flexibility when responding to circumstances that threaten the health or safety of individuals in their school community.  Understanding the provisions of FERPA relative to such circumstances will empower school officials to act decisively and quickly when challenges arise.
  • The guidance provides frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding how FERPA may apply when there is a threat to the health or safety of individuals at school.
  • The Department of Education FAQ provides a refresher on FERPA requirements, defines law enforcement records in the school context, and discusses consent rules when safety is an issue.

The FAQ also addresses judicial orders and subpoenas and whether notice to parents or eligible students must be made before complying with a court order or subpoena.  Other topics include disclosure of records between school districts when a student transfers and disclosure of information to a state juvenile justice system.

The Department of Education’s FAQ can be found HERE.

And for more information on privacy, security, and confidentiality of student data, visit the PTAC website at

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