What is a “law enforcement unit record”?
Law enforcement unit records are records that are: (1) created by a law enforcement unit; (2) created for a law enforcement purpose; and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit.(34 CFR § 99.8(b)(1)) Law enforcement unit records are not protected by FERPA because they are specifically excluded from the definition of “education records” and, thus, from the privacy protections afforded to parents and eligible students by FERPA.(34 CFR § 99.3, “Education Records”) Therefore, investigative reports and other records created and maintained by law enforcement units that meet this definition are not considered “education records” subject to FERPA and may be released subject to school policy, State law, and other applicable laws.
When members of a school’s law enforcement unit are school officials with access to students’ education records (or to PII contained in those records), they may not re-disclose the records or PII they receive as school officials under FERPA without appropriate consent or except as permitted under FERPA (34 CFR § 99.33), such as if the re-disclosure is to other school officials, or under the health and safety emergency exception. It is, therefore, advisable for law enforcement units to maintain law enforcement unit records separately from education records.