Heldref Publications, Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, 1319 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1802. Web site: http://www.heldref.org.
Information Analyses; Journal Articles
Confidentiality of student educational records is a serious issue. Disclosure of sensitive information in a student's personal file without prior written consent can be legally troublesome, especially when information is transmitted to others who have no legitimate educational interest in the student. Damaging information disclosed to a third party may result in defamation of character charges if false information is intentionally communicated in writing (libel) or orally (slander). Such a violation can result not only in liability charges but also in a loss of federal funds for the school district. Although the remedy under the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not give rise to a private cause of action resulting in the award of damages, it does create an interest that may be pursued under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Section 1983, for depriving a student of his or her constitutional rights. School personnel must exercise extreme caution in handling student records by assuring parents, guardians, or eligible students that they are afforded full protection regarding disclosure of educational records without their consent. Failure to do so can prove very costly in terms of litigation. This article explains the following: (1) Key Provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy act; and (2) Ten Ways to Invite Legal Challenges.
Civil Rights Act of 1871; Family Educational Rights and Privacy