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Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. 

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students." Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31): 

  1. School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  2. Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  3. Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  4. Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  5. Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  6. Accrediting organizations;
  7. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; 
  8. Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  9. State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

The most important part of this for families to know is that FERPA allows for schools to disclose, without consent, what is known as "directory" information, and which Pembroke Public Schools has designated as: a student's name, address, and telephone number; date and place of birth; participation in recognized activities and sports; weight and height of athletic team members; dates of attendance; honors and awards; and post high school plans of the student. 

There are occasions when media reporters or photographers use student images and/or information to report on school-related activities and events, or when the school exhibits same in school publications, programs, or on websites. Common occurrences for this would be game highlights, theatrical performances, and team rosters. Another public display of your student is in the PHS yearbook. While such instances are usually acceptable to parents, there are sometimes legal reasons that make publication of such information less prudent. 

Parents/caregivers and eligible students have the right to refuse to permit designation of any or all of the above information as directory information. In those cases, this information will not be disclosed except with the consent of the parents/caregivers or eligible students or when otherwise allowed by FERPA and 603 CMR 23.00 et seq. Please be assured that no list of pupils, their names, or addresses shall be made available to any individual or organization, except as where required by Federal or State statute, without prior consent of the parent/caregiver permission. If you do not wish your child’s name to be used or picture to be taken by media, you must notify the school.