Does FERPA Guarantee Student Confidentiality in the Classroom?

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I have two children in a public special ed class who are in the medically dependent children program through the state. They have nurses who go with them to school. The school told me that the nurses can not be present in the room during instruction time due to FERPA-that they are violating the privacy of the other students.

I thought FERPA only applied to records. Is there something I am missing?

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal statute. The purposes of FERPA are twofold:

  • to ensure that parents have access to their children’s educational records
  • to protect the privacy rights of parents and children by limiting access to these records without parental consent

FERPA regulates education records, nothing more.

The statute is in the United States Code at 20 U. S. C. 1232g and 1232h. The regulations are in the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 C.F.R Part 99.

Reference: Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, Chapter 9, pages 307-318.

This article will give you information and resources about the issue of “privacy of the other students.”

Schools take this position regarding nurses for a variety of reasons.  The school may have other underlying concerns.

In some cases they are afraid that at some point the parents will request that the school pay for the nurse.

In your discussions with the school, remember to document everything.  Put your questions and concerns in writing, and document any information or responses you get from the school.

  1. Interesting… I had a school system once tell me I couldn’t observe my student because of FERPA. Thank you!

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