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Information Sharing and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

NCJ Number
Ronald Laney
Date Published
July 1996
2 pages
After encouraging information-sharing among juvenile justice and youth-serving community agencies, notably schools, this Fact Sheet discusses how information-sharing can be conducted under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (ERPA).
Enacted in 1974, FERPA protects the privacy interests of students and parents through standards for record-keeping that are designed to discourage abusive and unwarranted disclosure of a student's education records. FERPA provides parents access to education records and limits non-consensual disclosure. Failure to comply with FERPA can result in a school's or education system's loss of Federal funding. This report concludes that many States and local education agencies and institutions have been overly restrictive in their interpretation of FERPA or in their information-release policies. This has unnecessarily obstructed the constructive sharing of information among key community youth-serving agencies, including juvenile justice agencies. The Improving America's Schools Act (IASA) of 1994 amended FERPA to promote active information-sharing by educators. IASA permits educators to share information on juveniles with juvenile justice system personnel prior to adjudication of the juvenile pursuant to State statute. Further, OJJDP's review of the FERPA statute and the current US. Department of Education regulation indicates that FERPA does not limit or restrict information-sharing through interagency information-sharing agreements between schools and other agencies with whom they share a common interest when prior consent has been obtained from the juvenile's parent or guardian. Conditions under which information may be shared without prior parental consent are discussed.