FERPA and emergencies
In an emergency situation, school officials may have to balance the immediate need for the safety of their students and staff with the need to protect the privacy of individual students. Generally, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a school is required to obtain written consent before disclosing a student’s education records. However, in an emer-gency, school officials are permitted to disclose without consent education records, including personally identifiable information from those records, to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. During these emergency situations, records and information may be released to appropriate parties such as law enforcement officials, public health officials, and trained medical personnel. See 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(10) and § 99.36. However, school officials should note that this narrow exception is limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable informa-tion from a student’s education records. School officials should determine on a case-by-case basis whether a disclosure of education records is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. For further information about FERPA, contact the Family Policy Compliance Office:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Ave. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920