When can law enforcement unit officials serve as “school officials”?
In order for law enforcement unit officials to be considered school officials, they must meet the criteria for who constitutes a school official that are set forth in the school’s or LEA’s annual notification to parents and eligible students of their rights under FERPA. See § 99.7(a)(3)(iii). This notification must be distributed by a school or LEA every year through a forum that is likely to be viewed by parents and eligible students, such as a student handbook, school website, a direct letter to parents, or a combination of methods, and must inform parents and eligible students of their rights under FERPA. These officials may be considered “school officials” with “legitimate educational interests” and have access to students’ education records, but only if they:
- Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees;
- Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records;
- Is subject to the requirements in § 99.33(a) that the personally identifiable information (PII) from education records may be used only for the purposes for which the disclosure was made, e.g., to promote school safety and the physical security of students, and governing the redisclosure of PII from education records; and
- Meets the criteria specified in the school or local educational agency’s (LEA’s) annual notification of FERPA rights for being a school official with a legitimate educational interest in the education records.