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On April 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office (“SPPO”) (formerly the Family Policy Compliance Office) issued a new cover letter to the Department’s annual notice to state educational agencies (“SEAs”) and local educational agencies (“LEAs”) regarding obligations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (“PPRA”). While the notice itself has not substantively changed, the cover letter encourages states and LEAs to review and revise FERPA/PPRA policies and notifications as necessary during this period of remote learning.

Accordingly, school districts should review and, as necessary, revise their policies and procedures and their FERPA and PPRA notifications to provide parents and students with information about any changes due to remote learning. This includes, but is not limited to, review and possible revision of:

  • Who constitutes a school official;
  • What constitutes a legitimate educational interest in order to permit the non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information (“PII”) from education records to school officials; and
  • Directory information policies.

Because school districts commonly use the school official exception to permit disclosures under FERPA for the use of video or other technology applications and tools, reviewing school district contracts with vendors and service providers as well as notices to parents/students is necessary during remote learning.

Additional resources on FERPA and remote learning are linked in the cover letter and available on the SPPO website.

Please contact any HLERK attorney with questions regarding reviewing your school district’s FERPA and PPRA notifications and contracts for remote learning.