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

6.C. Release With Prior Consent

When individual information not authorized by FERPA or other federal laws such as the National School Lunch Act (NSLA) is requested by a third party (e.g., a relative, family lawyer, or news reporter), the requester should be required to present written consent from the parent. If information requested from the record is not considered directory information but is personally identifiable, it can be released if the parent provides a written, signed, and dated consent document. The document must:

  • specify the information that may be released;
  • state the purpose of the release; and
  • identify the individuals or entities to whom the release may be made.

Staff members processing the request need to authenticate the request. The parent could be contacted for verification if there is any question or doubt about its authenticity.

Unless otherwise allowed by federal or state law, or local policies, agency or school staff should not assume that if parents openly discuss information included in their child’s education records, the parents are giving “implied” consent for staff to release that information. Written consent for agency or school release from the parent is required by FERPA.