Privacy and Homelessness: FERPA 2016

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of
student education records. 20 USC §1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. Specifically, it prohibits a school from
disclosing personally identifiable information from students’ education records without the consent of a
parent or eligible student, unless an exception to FERPA’s general consent rule applies.

Often, questions arise as to FERPA’s requirements and how they affect the sharing of educational
information about children and youth experiencing homelessness. Common challenges include protecting
survivors of domestic violence, appropriate handling of directory information, and how to access the
education records of unaccompanied youth. This document seeks to explain FERPA’s basic provisions, how
they relate to new privacy protections in the McKinney-Vento Act, and how schools can protect children
and youth who are homeless while appropriately sharing educational information.