Ask the FERPA Professor

Dear FERPA Professor,

I have an interpretation question for you. We have a situation where the state police called about a student that they were investigating for a crime not affiliated with my institution. They left me a message, but I wasn’t able to get back to them that day. They then called the campus police, who provided the state police the student’s information, including the student’s schedule.

I feel like this is a bit shady and not in keeping with FERPA. I don’t believe that the campus police should have handed out directory information or the student’s schedule. But that’s my interpretation, and perhaps it is misguided. What is your take on the situation?

Sincerely,

Victor E. Lane

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Dear Victor,

The campus police could provide only that information properly designated as “directory information” by the institution, or any information that meets the “law enforcement records” exception to FERPA’s definition of an “education record” found in §99.3 of the FERPA regulations. They should not be disclosing any other information, including class schedule, from a student’s education record without a subpoena for those records. If no subpoena has been issued, the campus police may only disclose information from student education records if the disclosure meets one of the exceptions to signed consent found in §99.31 of the regulations. You can check out more information on this topic in the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

I hope this is helpful in addressing your concerns.

The FERPA Professor 

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