Information Management

FERPA Violations: Examples to Avoid in Education

Joel Lim

|

January 11, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

ferpa violations

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

The U.S. Department of Education created a law protecting students' educational records, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  

FERPA gives parents and students more control over their personal information about their education. As a teacher, parent or student, you need to know what these rules are and what violations to avoid. To help you get started, we put together a practical guide on all you need to know about FERPA violations.


Key Takeaways 

  • FERPA, a federal law, gives parents and eligible students (18+) control over their records.

  • Common FERPA violations include sharing information without consent, not implementing proper security measures, and not informing parents of their FERPA rights.

  • Penalties for FERPA violations include a ban from federal funding and cease and desist orders.  


What Is FERPA & Why Is it Important?

what is ferpa

FERPA is a federal law giving parents and eligible students control over their records. 

It typically includes the student's race, gender and Social security number. It also includes the student's grades, schedule, attendance and enrollment records.   

FERPA applies to publicly-funded schools like primary, elementary, secondary, middle and high schools. It also applies to postsecondary institutions, universities and colleges. 

Because private schools do not receive federal funding, they are exempt from FERPA, although it's not uncommon for private schools to have their own privacy rules. 

FERPA includes the right to view and review education records. Schools only need to provide this information if the parents are far from the school, such as out of state. 

FERPA also provides the right to request that schools correct the education records if they are incorrect. This usually involves a hearing between the schools before making their decision. 

Schools need written permission from parents or eligible students to release their information. 

There are times when the school will not need to get permission for the following reasons:

  • For legitimate educational interests 

  • When students transfer 

  • When it relates to student finances 

  • For organizations conducting studies for the school 

  • When requested for judicial purposes 

  • When used by health officials or for safety emergencies 

  • When requested by state and local authorities 

Schools must note these guidelines because violations of FERPA can result in certain penalties. FERPA guidelines are so important because they protect students’ data, such as their medical information, from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

What Are Examples of FERPA Violations?

what are examples of ferpa violations

It’s not uncommon for schools and educational institutions to violate FERPA without even realizing it. 

Here are some of the most common examples of FERPA violations:

Sharing Educational Records Without Consent

The most common FERPA violation many schools make is sharing education records without consent. Sometimes, this is an entirely innocent mistake that winds up causing you to get in trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Some examples include sharing a student's record accidentally or on purpose with unauthorized persons, accidentally adding the wrong people to an email, or sending the records to the wrong email. 

The problem is these documents usually contain confidential information like a social security number, and it’s against most privacy laws to share a minor's information without consent. 

Not Using Proper Security Mechanisms

It’s so important for schools and educational institutions to take appropriate security measures to protect their students' personal information and education records. 

FERPA requires all schools and organizations that deal with sensitive information to have appropriate security mechanisms to protect the data from cybercrime and unauthorized access.

It’s a good idea to store all your documents in one safe space like Trustworthy, a family operating system used to safely store and organize all your important documents. They’re kept safe with the platform's advanced security mechanisms like (AES) 256-bit encryption standard, default 2-factor authentication, biometric authentication and YUBI hardware security keys.   

Failure to Inform Parents of FERPA Rights  

Many schools often fall victim to this FERPA violation, yet it’s one of the easiest rules schools must follow. FERPA indicates that all school and education organizations must give parents and eligible students annual updates on their FERPA rights. 

These rights include: 

  • The right to access education records at any time without delay 

  • The right to request an institution's correct records should there be any errors

  • The right that information can only be shared with written consent from the parents or eligible student 

Schools must also allow parents and students to opt out of the data disclosures. If schools fail to do this, they may face penalties because of non-compliance with the rules. 


Tips to Ensure Your Institution is FERPA-Compliant

tips to ensure your institution is ferpa-compliant

So, how do you prevent your institution from being non-compliant? We have a list of some useful tips your institution can follow to prevent any violations from happening. 

Hire FERPA Compliance Professionals for Training

You don't need to figure it all out on your own when there are FERPA compliance professionals who know the ins and outs of the rules. Hire a FERPA compliance professional to help train all members of your institution on all things FERPA. 

During these training sessions, they teach the guidelines and how they apply to your institution, how to get consent, how to protect data online and other useful information. 

If your institution has a Data Protection Officer, they should get training, as it is up to them to ensure the institution follows FERPA rules and requirements.      

Implement Compliant Procedures & Policies

Your Data Protection Officer will likely create compliant procedures and policies for your institution. All staff or employees must follow these guides when handling a student's education records to ensure no violations occur. 

This also includes assigning different people access to information and tracking who has access. Ensure there is no confusion about FERPA guidelines by ensuring every member or employee in your institution knows their role.

Conduct Risk Assessments

One of the most common FERPA violations is unauthorized access to students' education records due to a lack of proper compliance

Regardless of whether you think you have everything on point, regularly conduct risk assessments. They’ll help you find if you have any gaps in your compliance and identify potential problems, which will allow you to nip them in the bud.  

Risk assessments help determine how likely a data breach will occur and what impact it will have on your business.

Make Use of Sufficient Security Mechanisms 

Richart Ruddie, founder of Captain Compliance, explains:

“Although FERPA does not require any specific security mechanisms, they do require that your institution takes appropriate steps to protect student records. Keep your student's education records and other personal information safe by using sufficient security measures like installing firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software. These are just the most basic types of security measures that you can use.

Other security measures you can add are password protection, access control to ensure authorized access, and data encryption to ensure the risk of a data breach is unlikely.”

Monitor Network Activity

Keep track of all the user activity on your institution's network by keeping a log of who accessed what, where and when. This is beneficial if you’re a victim of a cybercrime like a data breach, as your IT team can potentially identify the suspect and potential security risks. 

Set Reminders for Annual FERPA Updates

Don't let a forgotten update be why your institution is penalized for a FERPA violation. Set regular reminders across all your devices when it’s time to update students and parents on their rights.  

Penalties for FERPA Violations

What happens if your institution is unfortunately found guilty of committing a FERPA violation, and what kind of penalty can you get? It’s up to the Student Privacy Policy Office to investigate the violation and determine the appropriate punishment. 

One of the most common types of punishment is a ban from federal funding, which is a massive blow to many schools. Other penalties typically include cease and desist orders. The FPCO is not out to punish schools without cause and will often offer the schools some steps to becoming compliant. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main FERPA exceptions?

The main exceptions to FERPA are that institutions can release information with consent if it’s used for judiciary purposes, if the student is transferring, for financial purposes, or for medical and safety purposes. 

Does recording a class violate FERPA?

No, unless you share that without written permission from the parents and eligible students. 

Who is considered a parent under FERPA?

Parents are defined as a student’s biological parents, adoptive parents, a guardian, or someone acting as a parent when there is no natural parent or guardian.

Information Management

FERPA Violations: Examples to Avoid in Education

Joel Lim

|

January 11, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

The U.S. Department of Education created a law protecting students' educational records, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  

FERPA gives parents and students more control over their personal information about their education. As a teacher, parent or student, you need to know what these rules are and what violations to avoid. To help you get started, we put together a practical guide on all you need to know about FERPA violations.


Key Takeaways 

  • FERPA, a federal law, gives parents and eligible students (18+) control over their records.

  • Common FERPA violations include sharing information without consent, not implementing proper security measures, and not informing parents of their FERPA rights.

  • Penalties for FERPA violations include a ban from federal funding and cease and desist orders.  


What Is FERPA & Why Is it Important?

what is ferpa

FERPA is a federal law giving parents and eligible students control over their records. 

It typically includes the student's race, gender and Social security number. It also includes the student's grades, schedule, attendance and enrollment records.   

FERPA applies to publicly-funded schools like primary, elementary, secondary, middle and high schools. It also applies to postsecondary institutions, universities and colleges. 

Because private schools do not receive federal funding, they are exempt from FERPA, although it's not uncommon for private schools to have their own privacy rules. 

FERPA includes the right to view and review education records. Schools only need to provide this information if the parents are far from the school, such as out of state. 

FERPA also provides the right to request that schools correct the education records if they are incorrect. This usually involves a hearing between the schools before making their decision. 

Schools need written permission from parents or eligible students to release their information. 

There are times when the school will not need to get permission for the following reasons:

  • For legitimate educational interests 

  • When students transfer 

  • When it relates to student finances 

  • For organizations conducting studies for the school 

  • When requested for judicial purposes 

  • When used by health officials or for safety emergencies 

  • When requested by state and local authorities 

Schools must note these guidelines because violations of FERPA can result in certain penalties. FERPA guidelines are so important because they protect students’ data, such as their medical information, from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

What Are Examples of FERPA Violations?

what are examples of ferpa violations

It’s not uncommon for schools and educational institutions to violate FERPA without even realizing it. 

Here are some of the most common examples of FERPA violations:

Sharing Educational Records Without Consent

The most common FERPA violation many schools make is sharing education records without consent. Sometimes, this is an entirely innocent mistake that winds up causing you to get in trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Some examples include sharing a student's record accidentally or on purpose with unauthorized persons, accidentally adding the wrong people to an email, or sending the records to the wrong email. 

The problem is these documents usually contain confidential information like a social security number, and it’s against most privacy laws to share a minor's information without consent. 

Not Using Proper Security Mechanisms

It’s so important for schools and educational institutions to take appropriate security measures to protect their students' personal information and education records. 

FERPA requires all schools and organizations that deal with sensitive information to have appropriate security mechanisms to protect the data from cybercrime and unauthorized access.

It’s a good idea to store all your documents in one safe space like Trustworthy, a family operating system used to safely store and organize all your important documents. They’re kept safe with the platform's advanced security mechanisms like (AES) 256-bit encryption standard, default 2-factor authentication, biometric authentication and YUBI hardware security keys.   

Failure to Inform Parents of FERPA Rights  

Many schools often fall victim to this FERPA violation, yet it’s one of the easiest rules schools must follow. FERPA indicates that all school and education organizations must give parents and eligible students annual updates on their FERPA rights. 

These rights include: 

  • The right to access education records at any time without delay 

  • The right to request an institution's correct records should there be any errors

  • The right that information can only be shared with written consent from the parents or eligible student 

Schools must also allow parents and students to opt out of the data disclosures. If schools fail to do this, they may face penalties because of non-compliance with the rules. 


Tips to Ensure Your Institution is FERPA-Compliant

tips to ensure your institution is ferpa-compliant

So, how do you prevent your institution from being non-compliant? We have a list of some useful tips your institution can follow to prevent any violations from happening. 

Hire FERPA Compliance Professionals for Training

You don't need to figure it all out on your own when there are FERPA compliance professionals who know the ins and outs of the rules. Hire a FERPA compliance professional to help train all members of your institution on all things FERPA. 

During these training sessions, they teach the guidelines and how they apply to your institution, how to get consent, how to protect data online and other useful information. 

If your institution has a Data Protection Officer, they should get training, as it is up to them to ensure the institution follows FERPA rules and requirements.      

Implement Compliant Procedures & Policies

Your Data Protection Officer will likely create compliant procedures and policies for your institution. All staff or employees must follow these guides when handling a student's education records to ensure no violations occur. 

This also includes assigning different people access to information and tracking who has access. Ensure there is no confusion about FERPA guidelines by ensuring every member or employee in your institution knows their role.

Conduct Risk Assessments

One of the most common FERPA violations is unauthorized access to students' education records due to a lack of proper compliance

Regardless of whether you think you have everything on point, regularly conduct risk assessments. They’ll help you find if you have any gaps in your compliance and identify potential problems, which will allow you to nip them in the bud.  

Risk assessments help determine how likely a data breach will occur and what impact it will have on your business.

Make Use of Sufficient Security Mechanisms 

Richart Ruddie, founder of Captain Compliance, explains:

“Although FERPA does not require any specific security mechanisms, they do require that your institution takes appropriate steps to protect student records. Keep your student's education records and other personal information safe by using sufficient security measures like installing firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software. These are just the most basic types of security measures that you can use.

Other security measures you can add are password protection, access control to ensure authorized access, and data encryption to ensure the risk of a data breach is unlikely.”

Monitor Network Activity

Keep track of all the user activity on your institution's network by keeping a log of who accessed what, where and when. This is beneficial if you’re a victim of a cybercrime like a data breach, as your IT team can potentially identify the suspect and potential security risks. 

Set Reminders for Annual FERPA Updates

Don't let a forgotten update be why your institution is penalized for a FERPA violation. Set regular reminders across all your devices when it’s time to update students and parents on their rights.  

Penalties for FERPA Violations

What happens if your institution is unfortunately found guilty of committing a FERPA violation, and what kind of penalty can you get? It’s up to the Student Privacy Policy Office to investigate the violation and determine the appropriate punishment. 

One of the most common types of punishment is a ban from federal funding, which is a massive blow to many schools. Other penalties typically include cease and desist orders. The FPCO is not out to punish schools without cause and will often offer the schools some steps to becoming compliant. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main FERPA exceptions?

The main exceptions to FERPA are that institutions can release information with consent if it’s used for judiciary purposes, if the student is transferring, for financial purposes, or for medical and safety purposes. 

Does recording a class violate FERPA?

No, unless you share that without written permission from the parents and eligible students. 

Who is considered a parent under FERPA?

Parents are defined as a student’s biological parents, adoptive parents, a guardian, or someone acting as a parent when there is no natural parent or guardian.

Information Management

FERPA Violations: Examples to Avoid in Education

Joel Lim

|

January 11, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

ferpa violations

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

The U.S. Department of Education created a law protecting students' educational records, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  

FERPA gives parents and students more control over their personal information about their education. As a teacher, parent or student, you need to know what these rules are and what violations to avoid. To help you get started, we put together a practical guide on all you need to know about FERPA violations.


Key Takeaways 

  • FERPA, a federal law, gives parents and eligible students (18+) control over their records.

  • Common FERPA violations include sharing information without consent, not implementing proper security measures, and not informing parents of their FERPA rights.

  • Penalties for FERPA violations include a ban from federal funding and cease and desist orders.  


What Is FERPA & Why Is it Important?

what is ferpa

FERPA is a federal law giving parents and eligible students control over their records. 

It typically includes the student's race, gender and Social security number. It also includes the student's grades, schedule, attendance and enrollment records.   

FERPA applies to publicly-funded schools like primary, elementary, secondary, middle and high schools. It also applies to postsecondary institutions, universities and colleges. 

Because private schools do not receive federal funding, they are exempt from FERPA, although it's not uncommon for private schools to have their own privacy rules. 

FERPA includes the right to view and review education records. Schools only need to provide this information if the parents are far from the school, such as out of state. 

FERPA also provides the right to request that schools correct the education records if they are incorrect. This usually involves a hearing between the schools before making their decision. 

Schools need written permission from parents or eligible students to release their information. 

There are times when the school will not need to get permission for the following reasons:

  • For legitimate educational interests 

  • When students transfer 

  • When it relates to student finances 

  • For organizations conducting studies for the school 

  • When requested for judicial purposes 

  • When used by health officials or for safety emergencies 

  • When requested by state and local authorities 

Schools must note these guidelines because violations of FERPA can result in certain penalties. FERPA guidelines are so important because they protect students’ data, such as their medical information, from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

What Are Examples of FERPA Violations?

what are examples of ferpa violations

It’s not uncommon for schools and educational institutions to violate FERPA without even realizing it. 

Here are some of the most common examples of FERPA violations:

Sharing Educational Records Without Consent

The most common FERPA violation many schools make is sharing education records without consent. Sometimes, this is an entirely innocent mistake that winds up causing you to get in trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Some examples include sharing a student's record accidentally or on purpose with unauthorized persons, accidentally adding the wrong people to an email, or sending the records to the wrong email. 

The problem is these documents usually contain confidential information like a social security number, and it’s against most privacy laws to share a minor's information without consent. 

Not Using Proper Security Mechanisms

It’s so important for schools and educational institutions to take appropriate security measures to protect their students' personal information and education records. 

FERPA requires all schools and organizations that deal with sensitive information to have appropriate security mechanisms to protect the data from cybercrime and unauthorized access.

It’s a good idea to store all your documents in one safe space like Trustworthy, a family operating system used to safely store and organize all your important documents. They’re kept safe with the platform's advanced security mechanisms like (AES) 256-bit encryption standard, default 2-factor authentication, biometric authentication and YUBI hardware security keys.   

Failure to Inform Parents of FERPA Rights  

Many schools often fall victim to this FERPA violation, yet it’s one of the easiest rules schools must follow. FERPA indicates that all school and education organizations must give parents and eligible students annual updates on their FERPA rights. 

These rights include: 

  • The right to access education records at any time without delay 

  • The right to request an institution's correct records should there be any errors

  • The right that information can only be shared with written consent from the parents or eligible student 

Schools must also allow parents and students to opt out of the data disclosures. If schools fail to do this, they may face penalties because of non-compliance with the rules. 


Tips to Ensure Your Institution is FERPA-Compliant

tips to ensure your institution is ferpa-compliant

So, how do you prevent your institution from being non-compliant? We have a list of some useful tips your institution can follow to prevent any violations from happening. 

Hire FERPA Compliance Professionals for Training

You don't need to figure it all out on your own when there are FERPA compliance professionals who know the ins and outs of the rules. Hire a FERPA compliance professional to help train all members of your institution on all things FERPA. 

During these training sessions, they teach the guidelines and how they apply to your institution, how to get consent, how to protect data online and other useful information. 

If your institution has a Data Protection Officer, they should get training, as it is up to them to ensure the institution follows FERPA rules and requirements.      

Implement Compliant Procedures & Policies

Your Data Protection Officer will likely create compliant procedures and policies for your institution. All staff or employees must follow these guides when handling a student's education records to ensure no violations occur. 

This also includes assigning different people access to information and tracking who has access. Ensure there is no confusion about FERPA guidelines by ensuring every member or employee in your institution knows their role.

Conduct Risk Assessments

One of the most common FERPA violations is unauthorized access to students' education records due to a lack of proper compliance

Regardless of whether you think you have everything on point, regularly conduct risk assessments. They’ll help you find if you have any gaps in your compliance and identify potential problems, which will allow you to nip them in the bud.  

Risk assessments help determine how likely a data breach will occur and what impact it will have on your business.

Make Use of Sufficient Security Mechanisms 

Richart Ruddie, founder of Captain Compliance, explains:

“Although FERPA does not require any specific security mechanisms, they do require that your institution takes appropriate steps to protect student records. Keep your student's education records and other personal information safe by using sufficient security measures like installing firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software. These are just the most basic types of security measures that you can use.

Other security measures you can add are password protection, access control to ensure authorized access, and data encryption to ensure the risk of a data breach is unlikely.”

Monitor Network Activity

Keep track of all the user activity on your institution's network by keeping a log of who accessed what, where and when. This is beneficial if you’re a victim of a cybercrime like a data breach, as your IT team can potentially identify the suspect and potential security risks. 

Set Reminders for Annual FERPA Updates

Don't let a forgotten update be why your institution is penalized for a FERPA violation. Set regular reminders across all your devices when it’s time to update students and parents on their rights.  

Penalties for FERPA Violations

What happens if your institution is unfortunately found guilty of committing a FERPA violation, and what kind of penalty can you get? It’s up to the Student Privacy Policy Office to investigate the violation and determine the appropriate punishment. 

One of the most common types of punishment is a ban from federal funding, which is a massive blow to many schools. Other penalties typically include cease and desist orders. The FPCO is not out to punish schools without cause and will often offer the schools some steps to becoming compliant. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main FERPA exceptions?

The main exceptions to FERPA are that institutions can release information with consent if it’s used for judiciary purposes, if the student is transferring, for financial purposes, or for medical and safety purposes. 

Does recording a class violate FERPA?

No, unless you share that without written permission from the parents and eligible students. 

Who is considered a parent under FERPA?

Parents are defined as a student’s biological parents, adoptive parents, a guardian, or someone acting as a parent when there is no natural parent or guardian.

Information Management

FERPA Violations: Examples to Avoid in Education

Joel Lim

|

January 11, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

ferpa violations

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

The U.S. Department of Education created a law protecting students' educational records, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  

FERPA gives parents and students more control over their personal information about their education. As a teacher, parent or student, you need to know what these rules are and what violations to avoid. To help you get started, we put together a practical guide on all you need to know about FERPA violations.


Key Takeaways 

  • FERPA, a federal law, gives parents and eligible students (18+) control over their records.

  • Common FERPA violations include sharing information without consent, not implementing proper security measures, and not informing parents of their FERPA rights.

  • Penalties for FERPA violations include a ban from federal funding and cease and desist orders.  


What Is FERPA & Why Is it Important?

what is ferpa

FERPA is a federal law giving parents and eligible students control over their records. 

It typically includes the student's race, gender and Social security number. It also includes the student's grades, schedule, attendance and enrollment records.   

FERPA applies to publicly-funded schools like primary, elementary, secondary, middle and high schools. It also applies to postsecondary institutions, universities and colleges. 

Because private schools do not receive federal funding, they are exempt from FERPA, although it's not uncommon for private schools to have their own privacy rules. 

FERPA includes the right to view and review education records. Schools only need to provide this information if the parents are far from the school, such as out of state. 

FERPA also provides the right to request that schools correct the education records if they are incorrect. This usually involves a hearing between the schools before making their decision. 

Schools need written permission from parents or eligible students to release their information. 

There are times when the school will not need to get permission for the following reasons:

  • For legitimate educational interests 

  • When students transfer 

  • When it relates to student finances 

  • For organizations conducting studies for the school 

  • When requested for judicial purposes 

  • When used by health officials or for safety emergencies 

  • When requested by state and local authorities 

Schools must note these guidelines because violations of FERPA can result in certain penalties. FERPA guidelines are so important because they protect students’ data, such as their medical information, from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

What Are Examples of FERPA Violations?

what are examples of ferpa violations

It’s not uncommon for schools and educational institutions to violate FERPA without even realizing it. 

Here are some of the most common examples of FERPA violations:

Sharing Educational Records Without Consent

The most common FERPA violation many schools make is sharing education records without consent. Sometimes, this is an entirely innocent mistake that winds up causing you to get in trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Some examples include sharing a student's record accidentally or on purpose with unauthorized persons, accidentally adding the wrong people to an email, or sending the records to the wrong email. 

The problem is these documents usually contain confidential information like a social security number, and it’s against most privacy laws to share a minor's information without consent. 

Not Using Proper Security Mechanisms

It’s so important for schools and educational institutions to take appropriate security measures to protect their students' personal information and education records. 

FERPA requires all schools and organizations that deal with sensitive information to have appropriate security mechanisms to protect the data from cybercrime and unauthorized access.

It’s a good idea to store all your documents in one safe space like Trustworthy, a family operating system used to safely store and organize all your important documents. They’re kept safe with the platform's advanced security mechanisms like (AES) 256-bit encryption standard, default 2-factor authentication, biometric authentication and YUBI hardware security keys.   

Failure to Inform Parents of FERPA Rights  

Many schools often fall victim to this FERPA violation, yet it’s one of the easiest rules schools must follow. FERPA indicates that all school and education organizations must give parents and eligible students annual updates on their FERPA rights. 

These rights include: 

  • The right to access education records at any time without delay 

  • The right to request an institution's correct records should there be any errors

  • The right that information can only be shared with written consent from the parents or eligible student 

Schools must also allow parents and students to opt out of the data disclosures. If schools fail to do this, they may face penalties because of non-compliance with the rules. 


Tips to Ensure Your Institution is FERPA-Compliant

tips to ensure your institution is ferpa-compliant

So, how do you prevent your institution from being non-compliant? We have a list of some useful tips your institution can follow to prevent any violations from happening. 

Hire FERPA Compliance Professionals for Training

You don't need to figure it all out on your own when there are FERPA compliance professionals who know the ins and outs of the rules. Hire a FERPA compliance professional to help train all members of your institution on all things FERPA. 

During these training sessions, they teach the guidelines and how they apply to your institution, how to get consent, how to protect data online and other useful information. 

If your institution has a Data Protection Officer, they should get training, as it is up to them to ensure the institution follows FERPA rules and requirements.      

Implement Compliant Procedures & Policies

Your Data Protection Officer will likely create compliant procedures and policies for your institution. All staff or employees must follow these guides when handling a student's education records to ensure no violations occur. 

This also includes assigning different people access to information and tracking who has access. Ensure there is no confusion about FERPA guidelines by ensuring every member or employee in your institution knows their role.

Conduct Risk Assessments

One of the most common FERPA violations is unauthorized access to students' education records due to a lack of proper compliance

Regardless of whether you think you have everything on point, regularly conduct risk assessments. They’ll help you find if you have any gaps in your compliance and identify potential problems, which will allow you to nip them in the bud.  

Risk assessments help determine how likely a data breach will occur and what impact it will have on your business.

Make Use of Sufficient Security Mechanisms 

Richart Ruddie, founder of Captain Compliance, explains:

“Although FERPA does not require any specific security mechanisms, they do require that your institution takes appropriate steps to protect student records. Keep your student's education records and other personal information safe by using sufficient security measures like installing firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software. These are just the most basic types of security measures that you can use.

Other security measures you can add are password protection, access control to ensure authorized access, and data encryption to ensure the risk of a data breach is unlikely.”

Monitor Network Activity

Keep track of all the user activity on your institution's network by keeping a log of who accessed what, where and when. This is beneficial if you’re a victim of a cybercrime like a data breach, as your IT team can potentially identify the suspect and potential security risks. 

Set Reminders for Annual FERPA Updates

Don't let a forgotten update be why your institution is penalized for a FERPA violation. Set regular reminders across all your devices when it’s time to update students and parents on their rights.  

Penalties for FERPA Violations

What happens if your institution is unfortunately found guilty of committing a FERPA violation, and what kind of penalty can you get? It’s up to the Student Privacy Policy Office to investigate the violation and determine the appropriate punishment. 

One of the most common types of punishment is a ban from federal funding, which is a massive blow to many schools. Other penalties typically include cease and desist orders. The FPCO is not out to punish schools without cause and will often offer the schools some steps to becoming compliant. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the main FERPA exceptions?

The main exceptions to FERPA are that institutions can release information with consent if it’s used for judiciary purposes, if the student is transferring, for financial purposes, or for medical and safety purposes. 

Does recording a class violate FERPA?

No, unless you share that without written permission from the parents and eligible students. 

Who is considered a parent under FERPA?

Parents are defined as a student’s biological parents, adoptive parents, a guardian, or someone acting as a parent when there is no natural parent or guardian.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

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