What does “articulable and significant threat” mean?
The phrase “articulable and significant threat” means that a school official is able to explain, based on all the information available at the time, what the significant threat is under § 99.36 when he or she makes and records the disclosure. For instance, if a school official believes that a student poses a significant threat, such as a threat of substantial bodily harm to any person, including to the student, then, under FERPA, the school official may disclose personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records without consent to any person whose knowledge of the information will assist in protecting a person from that threat. This is a flexible standard under which school administrators may bring appropriate resources to bear on the situation. If, based on the information available at the time of the determination, there is a rational basis for the educational agency’s or institution’s decisions about the nature of the emergency and the appropriate parties to whom the information should be disclosed, the Department will not substitute its judgment for that of the school in evaluating the circumstances and making its determination.