By Audience: K-12 School Officials

The resources on this page are intended for staff and educators of public K-12 schools and school districts.  Resources found here typically address FERPA and how it applies to the various day-to-day operations of public schools at the administrative level.  Guidance is also provided for specific situations that occur only in the K-12 setting.

Guidance and Best Practices

School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

This guidance document consists of thirty-seven commonly asked questions about schools’ and school districts’ responsibilities under FERPA relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement units and others, and seeks to explain and clarify how FERPA protects student privacy while ensuring the health and safety of students and others in the school community. SRO LEU LEO

Guidance and Best Practices

Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of FERPA Enforcement

The Department is committed to protecting student privacy. To provide more timely and effective assistance to parents and students and to address a recommendation made by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General to “implement a risk-based approach to processing and resolving FERPA complaints,”  the Department is modifying its investigatory practices to more efficiently address and resolve complaints and violations under FERPA.  

Guidance and Best Practices

Technical Assistance on Student Privacy for State and Local Educational Agencies When Administering College Admissions Examinations

The administration of college admissions examinations by SEAs and LEAs raises potential legal issues under FERPA, IDEA, PPRA, and State privacy laws, and generally raises concerns about privacy best practices. In particular, the pre-test surveys administered in connection with these exams raised privacy concerns that SEAs and LEAs must consider when contracting with the testing companies. This document discusses the legal issues, and advises SEAs and LEAs about how to remain in compliance when administering the tests. The document also conveys best practice recommendations to encourage transparency and parental involvement.

Guidance and Best Practices

Best Practices for Data Destruction

The Data Destuction Document is a best practices guide on properly destroying sensitive student data after it is no longer needed.  It details the life cycle of data and discusses various legal requirements relating to the destruction of data under FERPA, and examines a variety of methods for properly destroying data.  The guide also discusses best practices for data destruction and provides some real-world examples of how to implement it within your organization.

Letters

Cyber Advisory - New Type of Cyber Extortion / Threat Attack

Schools have long been targets for cyber thieves and criminals.  We are writing to let you know of a new threat, where the criminals are seeking to extort money from school districts and other educational institutions on the threat of releasing sensitive data from student records.  In some cases, this has included threats of violence, shaming, or bullying the children unless payment is received.

Letters

FTC and the Department of Education to Host Workshop on Student Privacy and Ed Tech; Seeking Public Comments

The U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a joint workshop on December 1, 2017 to explore the intersection of Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

This workshop will solicit input from a variety of education technology vendors, schools, parents, advocates, and privacy professionals to discuss their experiences navigating FERPA and COPPA while implementing education technology in a classroom setting.  The Department and the FTC are interested in learning about experiences, both positive and negative, in navigating the intersection of these statutes.   

You can find a full list of questions, and information about how to submit comments, in the attached document.   The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be at the FTC’s Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC.  It will be webcast live on the FTC’s website. 

Guidance and Best Practices

Data Breach Response Training Kit

Any organization with electronic records is vulnerable to security breaches, and education agencies are no exception. The PTAC Data Breach Scenario is one of a series of exercises intended to assist schools, districts, and other educational organizations with internal data security training.

The Password Data Breach interactive exercise is aimed at district management and provides a simulated response to a district-level data breach. Over the course of 1-2 hours, this customizable exercise leads participants through a scenario involving a breach of student information and other personally identifiable information. The exercise focuses on the processes, procedures, and skills needed to respond. The package includes three parts: Facilitator’s Guide, PowerPoint Slides, and Exercise Handouts.