Student Privacy & K-12 Data Governance
US Department of Education Specific FERPA Recommendations Related to COVID-19
2020 Annual FERPA Notification Letter From US Department of Education
During this time of social distancing due to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as educational agencies and institutions have transitioned to remote learning to educate their students:
FERPA-covered educational agencies and institutions and PPRA-covered LEAs may wish to review and, if appropriate, revise their policies and procedures, and their notifications under FERPA and PPRA to provide parents and students with information about any revisions necessitated by changes to their operations during this period.
Specifically, FERPA-covered educational agencies and institutions should review and, if appropriate, revise:
- the criteria specified in their annual notification of FERPA rights as to who constitutes a school official and what constitutes a legitimate educational interest in order to permit the non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records to school officials who have been determined to have legitimate educational interests under the school official exception.
- their directory information policies under FERPA. Both the directory information and school official exceptions to the general requirement of consent under FERPA are particularly important during this time of remote learning. LEAs most commonly use the school official exception to permit disclosures under FERPA for the use of video or other technology applications and tools. Provided certain conditions are met, the directory information exception permits disclosure of information contained in a student’s education records that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, such as the student’s name, address, phone number, photo image, and email address, including in connection with remote learning.
- OPI Data Governance Committee - The OPI Data Governance Committee establishes and enforces policies related to the collection of, access to, and use and dissemination of all information and data at the OPI, including student information.
- OPI Student Records Confidentiality Policy - All student information and data published by the OPI follows the OPI’s Student Records Confidentiality Policy, which prohibits the OPI from disclosing data from student groups that are 5 or fewer in number or would otherwise reveal the identity of an individual student. Montana has many small schools and small sub-group populations where an individual student’s identity could be revealed without this safeguard. In places where data has been suppressed to protect student privacy, you will see an asterisk ( * ) instead.