DQC commends Congress for its recent bipartisan action in providing additional clarity around the implications of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). On January 2, 2013, legislators passed S.3472, the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, which modifies FERPA to allow child welfare agencies to access the educational records of children in their care. This marks an important change that will enable schools and service providers to give foster children the educational support they need.
Before this clarification FERPA generally prohibited child welfare agencies from access to personally identifiable information in the student records of students for whom they are legally responsible. Case workers and others addressing these students’ education needs may now have access to these records; however, they may re-disclose only for the purpose of meeting a child’s educational needs. The law also allows educational records to be released, pursuant to a court order, without giving the otherwise required notice to a parent, if the parent is party to a court proceeding regarding child abuse and neglect or a dependency matter, and the order is issued in the context of that proceeding.
These modifications support the goals of ensuring the privacy, security, and confidentiality of student information while at the same time supporting effective data use that benefits every student—especially the most vulnerable.
Original cosponsors of H.R.5871 include the founding members of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, Reps. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), and Jim McDermott (D-WA), and others. Cosponsors of S.3472 include Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), cochairs of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, and Sens. Mark Begish (D-AK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).