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Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies

6.B. Release of Directory Information

If information requests are related to personally identifiable student information to be obtained from the education records, the first question a school official should ask is whether the request is for directory information as defined in the district’s education records policies. The release of directory information is governed by specific disclosure rules under FERPA that are different from education records in general. Section 2 of this document contains definitions of education records and directory information, as well as federal regulations that relate to the release of this information.

Agency or school staff should refer to federal, state, and local laws and regulations about the types of data that may be released without consent of the parents. Besides those specified in FERPA, the U.S. Congress recently passed a provision in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act that allows the disclosure of directory-type information (students’ names, addresses, and telephone listings) to military recruiters. State and local laws may specify data items considered directory information. Section 2B includes the types of items that are typically considered directory information by local policies.

As required by FERPA, annual notification should be given to allow parents to request that all or portions of directory information not be released. Exhibit 6–1 contains a sample notification form. Upon receipt of an information request, district or school staff need to verify that there is an appropriate prior consent to release that piece of information about the student(s).