COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 248

November 30, 2007

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

(FERPA)

 

In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, President Bush asked Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to conduct a listening tour across the country with educators, first responders, parents and others to address concerns related to emergency preparedness and school safety. Several recurring themes were heard across the country, including the need for additional guidance on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy of students' education records.

 

In response, the U.S. Department of Education has developed three new guides: one for K-12 educators, one for higher education officials and one for parents. The FERPA brochures for school officials include contact information for obtaining additional guidance and assistance.

 

The law empowers school officials to act quickly and decisively when problems arise. These guides expand key emergency management resources available from the U.S. Department of Education to help public schools and institutions of higher education plan for, respond to, and recover from a serious incident. The guides, accompanied by a letter and handout on emergency management resources, were sent to schools, school boards, associations and others nationwide on October 30, 2007. The letter and handout on emergency management resources are available online at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/secletter/071030.html.

The new FERPA guidance and brochures are available online at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/safeschools/.

 

Brochures may be ordered from the U.S. Department of Education's Publications Center (ED Pubs) by calling (toll free) 1-877-433-7827 or e-mailing edpubs@inet.ed.gov. The following brochures are available:

 

Balancing Student Privacy and Campus Safety: A Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for Colleges and Universities (ED003905H)

Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety: A Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for Elementary and Secondary Schools (ED003906H)

 

Parents' Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: Rights Regarding Your Children's Education Records (ED003907H)

 

Should there be questions about FERPA, please contact Dr. Sandra E. Ruffin, director, federal program monitoring at 804-225-2768 or by e-mail: sandra.ruffin@doe.virginia.gov. Questions about school safety resources may be directed to Arlene D. Cundiff, coordinator, safe and drug-free schools program, at 804-225-2871 or by e-mail: arlene.cundiff@doe.virginia.gov.

 

BKCJr/ADC/nc