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ERIC Number: EJ828744
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec-19
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Education Department Gives Colleges New Flexibility on Student-Privacy Law
Lipka, Sara
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n17 pA18 Dec 2008
New regulations may expand the thicket of student-privacy law, but the U.S. Department of Education hopes that an in-depth guide will help colleges and universities find their way. Last week the department released new rules on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa), which governs the disclosure of student records. The regulations do not revolutionize the law, but they update and clarify some of its thorniest parts. Under the new rules, colleges may disclose information about someone "if there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals." The guide imposes a "rational basis" test on colleges' decisions to disclose information in emergencies. "The department will not substitute its judgment for that of the agency or institution if, based on the information available at the time, ... there is a rational basis for the agency's or institution's determination that a health or safety emergency exists," the introduction says. Another area of focus in the new regulations is the role of contractors in protecting students' privacy. As colleges have outsourced many student services, third parties' relationship with Ferpa has remained murky. In March, the Education Department said those contractors had to be under institutions' "direct control" to be eligible for access to protected student information. The final rules preserve the phrase "direct control," but the introduction explains that the standard is not as strict as it sounds. Contracts with third parties who handle student information must reflect that the information is owned by the institutions and governed by Ferpa, the regulations say. The new regulations will send campuses scrambling: They will take effect on January 8, which is 30 days from their release. However, they may require colleges to do more in the way of reviews and revisions than sweeping changes.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974