Department provides additional guidance on FERPA amendments

Last year, the Department posted a dispatch on amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) resulting from the Uninterrupted Scholars Act.  These amendments to FERPA included an Additional Exception to Parental Consent Requirements for Students in Foster Care and an Exemption to Notice Requirement When Records Released Under Court Order.

The amendments are intended to do the following:

  1. Allow schools to release student education records to a caseworker, State or local child welfare representative, or tribal organization that has the right to access the student’s case plan when such agency or organization is legally responsible for the care and protection of the student. This is meant to ensure timely access to the student records of those students in foster care and thus prevent the interruption of their education.
  2. Create an exemption to the requirement that parents be notified when records are released in conjunction with a court order. An educational agency does not need to notify the parent of the release of records under the court order “when a parent is a party to a court proceeding involving child abuse and neglect or dependency matters, and the order is issued in the context of that proceeding.”

The U.S. Department of Education has now provided additional guidance on these amendments in the form of: (1) a letter that includes frequently asked questions (FAQs); (2) a side-by-side comparison of IDEA and FERPA confidentiality provisions; and (3) a summary chart of FERPA exceptions.

Please visit the U.S. DOE’s Family Policy Compliance Office for additional guidance as it is made available. For more information or technical assistance from the Maine DOE, contact Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 207-624-6676.