A parent has the right to file a written complaint with SPPO regarding an alleged violation of his or her rights under FERPA or PPRA. The rights afforded to parents under FERPA transfer to a student when the student turns 18 years old or begins attending a postsecondary institution at any age. The rights afforded to parents under PPRA transfer to a student when the student turns 18 years old or if the student is an emancipated minor (under State law) at any age. Once the rights afforded to parents transfer to a student, parents generally may not file a complaint alleging a violation of FERPA or PPRA.
- Please review the FERPA General Guidance for Parents or Eligible Students, PPRA General Guidance, FAQs and other resources on our Resources page to determine whether FERPA or PPRA protections apply to your situation.
- If, after carefully reviewing these materials, you believe you do have a timely allegation of a violation of your rights under FERPA or PPRA, you may complete a complaint form. A timely allegation is an allegation that is submitted to SPPO within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that you knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.
- Please review the complaint form and instructions to ensure that you are prepared to provide all of the information requested.
- Before filing a PPRA complaint, you are required to contact your educational agency or institution to seek to resolve your concerns.
- Before filing a FERPA complaint, you are strongly encouraged (but not required) to contact your educational agency or institution to seek to resolve your concerns.
Your complaint must—
- be in writing and must contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of FERPA or PPRA has occurred;
- be filed by the parent or by the student (if the rights have transferred to the student); and
- be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation or within 180 days after you knew or should have known about the violation.
If you wish to file a complaint under FERPA or PPRA, you should do so by completing the FERPA or PPRA complaint form provided below. Please note that these forms are Adobe fillable .pdf and work best when used with Adobe Acrobat. You may either e-mail the completed complaint form to FERPA.Complaints@ed.gov (for FERPA complaints) or PPRA.Complaints@ed.gov (for PPRA complaints), or mail the completed form to the following address:
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520
To resolve your complaint, SPPO may need to collect personal information about you or your child that is pertinent to the investigation and resolution of the complaint. While you are not required to provide any personal information, please note that a failure to provide any of the information requested on the complaint form may result in the dismissal of your complaint.
The Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (Privacy Act) (5 U.S.C. § 552a), governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals that is maintained in “systems of records” by Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. The Privacy Act generally prohibits the disclosure of a record absent the prior written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains. However, the law includes several exceptions that allow for disclosure without such consent.
In certain circumstances, SPPO may disclose personal information from your complaint form without your consent in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b) of the Privacy Act, or pursuant to a routine use, as published in the applicable system of records notice. For example, SPPO may disclose such information without your consent to other employees at the U.S. Department of Education who have a “need to know” such information to perform their job duties. In addition, SPPO may disclose such information without your consent to educational agencies and institutions against which your complaint was filed. For example, SPPO may need to reveal personal information to officials at your school to verify facts or gather additional information related to your complaint.