Privacy of Student Records Collected and Maintained by the California Department of Education
To meet its statutory responsibilities, the California Department of Education (CDE) collects and maintains personally identifiable information from the education records of California students. Such information may include the following types:
- Student’s name, identification number, address, race/ethnicity, gender, date of birth, place of birth, name and address of parent or guardian
- Attendance data
- Data regarding student progress, including grade level completed, school attended, course enrollment, academic work completed, and date of graduation
- Standardized test scores
- Disciplinary actions
- Data regarding eligibility for, or participation in, school lunch programs
- Data regarding eligibility for special education and special education services provided to the student
- Data regarding eligibility for other compensatory programs and special program services provided to the student
The CDE adheres to the privacy requirements in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), the California Information Practices Act (California Civil Code Section 1798 et seq.), California Education Code Section 49062 et seq., Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution, and all other applicable federal and state laws and regulations that safeguard education records, privacy, and confidentiality.
Personally Identifiable Information from Education Records
The CDE collects and maintains personally identifiable student information from education records. With some exceptions, such personally identifiable information is considered confidential and cannot be disclosed without the parent’s or student’s (if the student is eighteen or older) written consent.
Personally identifiable information includes a student’s name and other direct personal identifiers, such as the student’s identification number. Personally identifiable information also includes indirect identifiers, such as the name of the student’s parent or other family members; the student’s or family’s address; and personal characteristics or other information that would make the student’s identity easily traceable.
Parental Rights under FERPA to Inspect, Review, and Request Amendment of Education Records
FERPA gives parents certain rights regarding their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of eighteen or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are considered "eligible students."
Except under certain specified circumstances, FERPA affords parents or eligible students the right to inspect and review the student’s education records. Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records that they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school does not amend the record as requested, the school must offer the parent or student a hearing on the matter.
More information on parent rights under FERPA can be found at the federal Family Policy Compliance Office’s “FERPA General Guidance for Families” (Outside Source).
Exceptions to Written Parental Consent Requirement
Records may be disclosed by the school or the district to the CDE, as the State educational authority, without prior written consent if the disclosure is in connection with:
- An audit or evaluation of federal or state-supported education programs
- The enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements relating to such programs
Records may be disclosed without prior written consent under certain other circumstances, including the following:
- Disclosures to other school officials, including teachers, within the district whom the school or district has determined to have legitimate educational interests
- Disclosures, subject to certain restrictions, to officials of another school, school system, or institution of postsecondary education where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled as long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer
- Disclosures to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, schools or districts to:
- Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests
- Administer student aid programs
- Improve instruction
- Disclosures in connection with a health or safety emergency
- Disclosures of appropriate information regarding specified disciplinary actions to teachers and school officials, including those in other schools, who have legitimate educational interests in the behavior of the student
The school or district may disclose directory information from education records without consent as long as it has notified parents and eligible students of:
- The types of information the school or district has designated as directory information
- The right of parents and eligible students to opt out of disclosure of directory information
Directory information can include the student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.
Only schools or districts may disclose directory information but only after parents are notified and given an opportunity to refuse such disclosure. The CDE will not disclose student directory information. Parents should check the school’s parent handbook or contact the local school district for local policies on disclosure of student directory information.
A school, district, the CDE, or any party that is authorized to receive personally identifiable information from education records may release the records or information without the required written consent if all personally identifiable information has been removed. Authorized parties must make a reasonable determination that a student's identity is not personally identifiable, considering single or multiple releases and taking into account other reasonably available information. This determination must be made before releasing individual or summary student information.
Complaints about procedures regarding privacy of student educational records may be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20201.
FERPA (Outside Source) - full text of FERPA Federal law
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Part 99 - information pertaining to FERPA
The federal Family Policy Compliance Office - information on FERPA, including Frequently Asked Questions
California Education Code Section 49069 et seq. - specifies parent’s rights to inspect, review, and challenge the content of a student’s records maintained at the school district
California Education Code Section 49073 et seq. - specifies requirements for school districts pertaining to student directory information and exceptions to parental consent requirements