FERPA Annual Notification and Policy
Last Reviewed: January 24, 2018
Connections Education LLC, dba Pearson Online & Blended Learning K-12 USA (OBL), its managed schools, programs and affiliates (collectively referred to as "the School") comply fully with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"). The schools OBL support recognize OBL as a school official as defined by FERPA.
FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office (Office) in the U.S. Department of Education (Department). 20 U.S.C. section 1232g; CFR Part 99. FERPA applies to educational agencies and institutions (e.g., schools) that receive funding under any program administered by the Department.
FERPA gives custodial and noncustodial parents alike certain rights with respect to their student’s education records. Unless the School is provided with evidence that there is a court order or State law that specifically provides to the contrary, both custodial and noncustodial parents have the right to:
- Access and inspect their student's education records;
- Provide written consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the student’s education records;
- Request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA; and
- File a complaint with the Department.
When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an "Eligible Student" at which point FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student.
The term "education records" is defined as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
Right To Inspect And Amend Educational Records
Under FERPA, the School must provide a parent, legal guardian or Eligible Student with an opportunity to inspect and review his or her student’s education records within 45 days following its receipt of a request. The School is required to provide a parent with copies of education records, or make other arrangements, if a failure to do so would effectively prevent the parent from obtaining access to the records.
Parents, legal guardians, and Eligible Students possess the right to request and receive from the School the following: (1) an explanation of information in the student's education records; (2) a copy of all or part of the student's education record; and (3) a list of the types and locations of the student's education records collected, maintained, or utilized by the School.
A written request identifying the records to be inspected must be provided to the School. The school official will arrange for access and will notify the parent or Eligible Student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If copies are requested, the School may charge the requesting party reasonable copying costs.
A parent, legal guardian or Eligible Student has the right to request an amendment to an education record but must do so in writing. The request must clearly identify the part of the record in question, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading for submission to the School Principal. If the School decides not to amend the record, the parent, legal guardian, or Eligible Student shall be notified in writing. If the School decides not to amend the record, the parent, legal guardian, or Eligible Student then has the right to request and receive a records hearing review. The request must be made in writing. At this time, additional information shall be provided to the parent, legal guardian, or Eligible Student regarding the hearing process procedures.
FERPA was intended to require only that schools conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary ruling, or placement determinations. Thus, while FERPA affords parent the right to seek to amend education records which contain inaccurate information, this right cannot be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or a substantive decision made by a school about a student.
Additionally, if FERPA's amendment procedures are not applicable to a parent, legal guardian or Eligible Student's request for amendment of education records, the school is not required under FERPA to hold a hearing in the matter.
Disclosure Without Consent
Parents, legal guardians or Eligible Students possess the right to prevent disclosure of educational records to third parties except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. The following are examples, including but not limited to, instances that do not require the School to obtain prior written consent. The School may release education records to/for:
- School officials with legitimate educational interests. School officials include the following: persons employed by the School, whether paid or unpaid, administrator, supervisor, instructor, support staff or school Board of Directors members; authorizing bodies or districts, vendors employed by or under contract with the school, such as an attorney, auditor, consultant, etc.; or a parent, student or volunteer serving in an official school capacity. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the school.
- Other schools when a student graduates or transfers. Upon request, the school discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
Upon receipt of the request, the school will make reasonable attempts to notify the parent or the Eligible Student of the request and the date the records were forwarded.
- Accrediting institutions.
- Compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
- Appropriate officials in the case of a health or safety emergency.
- State and local authorities within a juvenile system pursuant to applicable state law.
- Parents if an Eligible Student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid.
FERPA permits the School to designate certain information contained in student educational records as Directory Information. Directory Information is generally defined as information not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released.
FERPA permits a School to disclose Directory Information for any purpose to third parties, unless the parent, legal guardian, or Eligible Student has exercised the right to opt–out of the release of Directory Information. A parent, legal guardian or Eligible Student may opt-out of having his/her Directory Information released by completing the Authorization to Withhold Directory Information Form found in the Permissions Manager section of the Student Information Form (SIF). If refusal is requested, the Directory Information will not be disclosed except with the consent of the parent, legal guardian, or Eligible Student or as otherwise allowed by FERPA. This is an annual election which occurs during the enrollment or returning student process.
The following information regarding students is considered Directory Information by the Connections Education LLC and its affiliated schools:
- student name
- student city of residency
- student webmail address
- student telephone number
- student grade level
If an opt-out form is not received, the School will assume that there is no objection to the release of the designated Directory Information.
Federal law requires schools receiving federal monies to provide military recruiters, upon request, with the following three categories of Directory Information for high school students:
- student name
- student address
- student telephone number
However, the law affords parents/legal guardians the option to refuse disclosure of such information by completing the Authorization to Withhold Directory Information Form.
Disclosure With Consent
Written consent must be obtained prior to the release of personally identifiable information to any party not in the Disclosure without Consent list found above or not categorized as Directory Information.
Custody, Dependency And Post Secondary Course Records
FERPA rights are extended to both the custodial and noncustodial parent unless the School is provided with a judicial court order, state statute, or legally binding document that specifically or effectively revokes parent's FERPA rights.
Under FERPA, a school may provide parent access to the educational records of an Eligible Student if either parent or a legal guardian can demonstrate their student’s financial dependency, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code, by producing their most recent tax return or completing the forms at the Family Compliance Office website (this does not apply to emancipated minors). If a parent or legal guardian cannot prove financial dependency their Eligible Student must provide written consent before the school will permit access to educational records.
If a student takes a course at a postsecondary institution, the FERPA rights are accorded to the student for any such course. In order for Connections Education LLC, parents, or any third parties to gain access to such educational records, the student is required to provide consent in writing.
Right To File A Complaint
Parents, legal guardians, or Eligible Students who have concerns or questions should e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, parents, legal guardians, or Eligible Students may file a complaint with the Department:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5901