Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Family near the playground on the first day of school

Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a parent/guardian (and students over 18 years of age) has certain rights concerning how Lake Washington School District releases educational records. The district may release some basic information on the student, called directory information. A parent/guardian and students over 18 can direct the district to keep that information confidential.

Releasing Student Information

Although there are some exceptions, in general, the district cannot release information about a student without written consent from a parent/guardian. 

Exceptions to Releasing Student Information

One exception is that the district can forward educational records on request to a school in which a student plans to enroll. 

A second exception is that student information may also be given to school officials with legitimate educational interests. FERPA defines “school official” to include “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency of institution has outsourced institutional services or functions.” A school official may therefore include an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a student teacher; a person serving on the School Board; contractors (a person or company with whom the district has contracted to perform a special task or service, such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, therapist, Learning Management System or provider of educational digital tool or digital curriculum which has undergone district review and approval as meeting contractor status under FERPA); consultants; volunteers; or a parent or student serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing duties. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill professional responsibilities.

The district’s approved Learning Management System, digital tool and curriculum providers are also compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Student information shared with these providers is done on a need-to-know basis, used solely for the delivery of educational services to the district and not for any commercial purpose.

Directory Information

The district is allowed to release “directory information” to a requestor, outside of the district, unless the parent/guardian requests information be withheld by completing the Directory Information withhold process. Directory information is information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The district’s approved consultants under the school official exception to FERPA are considered part of the district. Information is only released through an official Public Records Request.

The following information is considered directory information: 

Student’s full name
Email addresses: personal, parent/guardian and school-assigned
Phone number
Schools attended
Grade level
Parent/guardian names
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Weight and height of members of athletic teams
Dates of attendance
Enrollment status
Diplomas and awards
Date and place of birth

This information may be used in a variety of ways, such as a school yearbook, school or district newsletters or website, or released to news media.

Directory Information Withhold Process

To keep directory information private, parents/guardians must request that their child’s directory information be withheld before September 14 of each school year. If you are enrolling your student mid-year, the request must be made within five days of enrollment. These requests can be made through the Online Student Information Verification process, or you can write a letter to your school’s principal letting him/her know that you would like to opt out of the release of directory information under FERPA.

To access the Online Student Information Verification process, login to Skyward Family Access.

Important: If you do not complete the directory information withhold processes (either online or on paper), your child’s directory information may be released

Note: The district cannot control the release of certain directory information, such as photographs/images or names, when students participate in school events open to the general public such as athletic competitions, concerts or plays.

Military or Higher Education

Under federal law, directory information can also be released to military recruiters and to institutions of higher education for students who are in ninth grade to 12th grade. If you do not want this information released to military organizations, please check the military box on the “Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information – Military & Higher Education (Grades 9-12)” form.

If you do not want this information released to institutions of higher education, please check the higher education box on the “Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information – Military & Higher Education (Grades 9-12)” form.

You and your student will still be able to request sending their records to specific colleges or universities: the Directory Information Withhold request simply means the district will not include your student’s directory information in a request for information.

Please note that both military and higher education organizations may gain access to your student’s information from other sources. By checking the boxes on the electronic forms as mentioned above, simply means the District will not provide the student information to the Military or Higher Education institution.

Reviewing & Appealing Contents of Records

Under the law, a parent/guardian has the right to inspect and review their student’s educational records within 45 days of submitting a written request to the school’s principal. The principal will then notify the parent/guardian of the time and place where the records may be reviewed.

Concerns with Student Records

If concerns arise about the accuracy or appropriateness of a student’s educational records maintained by the school, the parent/guardian is encouraged to inform the principal. The principal will meet with the parent/guardian and attempt to resolve the matter. If the concern is not satisfactorily resolved within 30 school days, the parent/guardian will have the opportunity for a hearing before the Superintendent or designee. The request for the hearing must be made in writing. The hearing will be held within a reasonable time following the request. More information is available in the student records policies in the administrative policies section of the district website.

If a parent/guardian is still not satisfied following this process, the parent can insert into the Challenge of Records a written explanation.