Does a Facebook post about a student always violate FERPA?

Our good friend, Anonymous, sent a query to the Family Policy Compliance Office about a teacher, a student, Facebook and FERPA.  The report of the query and the answer is light on details, but apparently a teacher posted a comment on Facebook that Anonymous believed was directed at a student (Son of Anonymous?).  FPCO replied by saying that Anonymous had not provided enough information for FPCO to determine if there was a violation or not.  However, there is one part of the response that the Dawg thinks is worthy of your attention.  This:

Additionally, please note that FERPA applies to the disclosure of tangible records and of personally identifiable information derived from those tangible records.  FERPA does not protect the confidentiality of information in general, and, therefore, does not apply to the disclosure of information derived from a source other than education records, even if education records exist which contain that information. 

It’s not a general confidentiality statute.  It’s about maintaining confidentiality regarding grades, individual evaluations, test scores, teacher comments and other things that are recorded in a “tangible record.”  Information that a teacher or administrator has derived from some other source is not FERPA-protected, although there might be other reasons to maintain confidentiality. 

That’s worth thinking about. The letter is Letter to Anonymous, dated October 15, 2018.  We found it at Special Ed Connection, 119 LRP 1622. 


Tomorrow: Oremus.