Q&A: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act


From The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne):

Q: A 9-year-old girl was murdered in Fort Wayne. The newspaper would like to get her school enrollment record to get an idea of when her family moved here.

The district public information officer said she couldn’t say when the girl started at the school.

Is that information protected, or should I be able to access it? 

A: The death of a child doesn’t change the confidentiality of student records required by the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

However, any directory information on the students would remain available under a records request.

So if the school put together each year a directory with student/parent(s) names and phone numbers or addresses so families can arrange carpools, check on homework assignments, etc., those records would be available for copying and inspection.

That would tell you if she attended school that year, unless she entered after the directory was compiled.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.