Confidentiality and Privacy
Federal and state law (20 U.S.C. 1232f; M.G.L.c.71 § 34D; and 603 C.M.R. 23.07) as well as the Massachusetts freedom of information law (M.G.L. c. 66 § 10) speak to the handling of confidential information School employees regularly encounter or are privy to confidential information regarding students, employees, and the public at large. Unless prior authorization is provided by a supervisor, the disclosure or dissemination of confidential information is prohibited.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) also known as the “Buckley Amendment” provides parents and students with certain protections and imposes some restrictions and requirements on the District regarding privacy.
The Rights. Parents have the right to: inspect and review their children’s educational records; have them amended if they’re inaccurate or misleading or if they violate privacy rights; consent to disclosure; file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education. When students turn 18 or enter postsecondary education programs, they become “eligible students” and have the rights their parents previously had.
The Restrictions. In general, the District must have written permission from the parent or eligible student before releasing any information from a student’s record, except for school employees who “have a need to know,” and certain other specified exceptions, such as in response to court orders.
“Directory” information, such as names, addresses, honors and awards are generally excluded from the restrictions.
The Requirements. The District must notify parents and eligible students annually about their rights. The District must give them a chance to request the withholding of “directory information.” For more information, visit the following websites: www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/71-34d.htm or www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.