The U.S. Department of Education today released a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on schools’ and districts’ responsibilities under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the context of school safety.
The Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) released an in-depth report last December, which observed that “substantial misunderstanding remains at the local level among officials and educators concerning (FERPA), and in particular its application to school-based threats.”
This FAQ document, titled, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), consolidates previously issued guidance and technical assistance into a single resource to help raise schools’ and districts’ awareness of these provisions.
Today the U.S. Department of Education is releasing resources to emphasize and support the needs of foster care students. In addition to new guidance, ED has launched a dedicated web page, Students in Foster Care, and issued a joint letter with the U.S. Department of Health Human Services to education authorities about increasing educational stability for children and youth in foster care.
The guidance released today will make it easier for caseworkers, child welfare agencies and tribal organizations responsible for the placement and care of children and youth in foster care to have direct access to their education records. The guidance provides states with information to implement the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), an amendment to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It also details the amendment’s impact on the confidentiality provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The guidance will help states improve educational and developmental outcomes for students in foster care by providing authorized agencies with access to the records they need to meet the early intervention or educational needs of the students.
For four decades, federal law has enabled children with disabilities to be integrated with regular education students at school, but even today that integration is a puzzle in progress.
"Not a lot of regular education teachers have the level of training to respond to students’ behaviors," special education legal advocate Kathy Custren said.
She represented an Altoona student in court who was criminally charged for striking a teacher during an aggressive "meltdown," a characteristic of his Asperger’s syndrome. He currently attends cyber school because of the charges.
Altoona Area School District has 1,484 students with disabilities.
District administrators cannot comment on individual cases because of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws, district spokeswoman Paula Foreman said.