Early childhood education program participants are considered students for purposes of the federal “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974,” Public Law 93-380, a.k.a. “FERPA” or the “Buckley Amendment,” and educational data for purposes of the “Minnesota Government Data Practices Act,” Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13. The major objective of both these laws is to provide some control over the use and dissemination of data on students and to provide parents and students with certain rights. If data about participants are not treated as data about students, the data will be subject to the Chapter 13 presumption that government data are public. Go to Regulations/Statutes page for link to Minnesota Statutes 13.32 and 13.321.
A key element of FERPA is that it only allows dissemination of student records outside of a school district, subject to certain exceptions, when the parents of the student, or in the case of a student over age 18, the student authorize the dissemination with a written consent for release of information. FERPA also contains other federal requirements that relate to education records maintained about students. FERPA requires school districts to develop and implement policies and procedures that: limit access to education records within a school district to those personnel who have a legitimate educational interest (define “legitimate educational interest” and make that definition available to parents); provide access by parents and students to education records; provide a means by which parents and students can contest the content of education records; and provide a process within a district for designating what information on students will be made available to the public and a means for parents and students to object to that designation.
Some federal courts that have been presented with the question of whether FERPA can be used as the basis for suing a school district have interpreted FERPA to say that the only remedy parents and students can use, if they feel FERPA has been violated, is to make a complaint to the federal Department of Education. Other federal courts have held that FERPA can be used as the basis for a law suit. This question has not yet been definitively decided because it has not been addressed by the United States Supreme Court. However, there is no similar legal obstacle to parents and student if a law suit is brought arguing that a school district has violated the state Data Practices Act. Legal actions for damages, to compel compliance and to seek injunctive relief are specifically provided for in Chapter 13. For that reason, districts should closely examine the requirements of Chapter 13 and take appropriate action to comply with its provisions.
Chapter 13 regulates all government data maintained by the state and its political subdivisions. It establishes the right of the public to gain access to data maintained by school districts with the exception of most data on students and some data on employees. A section of Chapter 13 establishes the following rights for data subjects: to be notified, when data is requested by a district, among other things, whether the data must be provided and how the data will be used and disseminated; to gain access to data about themselves within specified time frames, unless the data are classified by statute or federal law as confidential, and to challenge the accuracy and completeness of data and, if necessary, to have that challenge heard by an impartial administrative law judge paid for by the district. Chapter 13 contains a variety of other provisions that cannot be summarized in the space allotted here.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."
from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html Click on the link or click here for more information.