When Records Collide: Accessing Your Child’s Education Records with FERPA in Mind

As a parent, you have the right to access your child’s education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). However, these records might sometimes contain information about other students. This can raise questions about privacy and what information you’re entitled to see.

This blog post will explore FERPA regulations regarding education records containing information about other children. We’ll delve into what schools can and cannot disclose, your rights as a parent, and how to navigate situations where other students’ information is involved.

Understanding FERPA

FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It grants parents and eligible students (those 18 or older) specific rights regarding access to these records.

FERPA and Information About Other Students

FERPA restricts the disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) from a student’s education record without their consent. PII includes anything that can be used to identify a student, like names, grades, or disciplinary actions.

If your child’s record contains information about other students, the school cannot disclose that information to you.

Redacting Information

Schools are required to redact (remove) any PII about other students before releasing your child’s records. This ensures you get the information about your child while protecting the privacy of others.

When Redaction Isn’t Possible

In some cases, redacting information about other students may not be feasible. For example, if your child’s record details a classroom incident involving another student, removing their name might render the context unclear.

In such situations, schools may:

  • Summarize the incident without disclosing identifying details about the other student.
  • Offer alternative ways to access your child’s information, like focusing on their specific involvement in the event.

Your Right to Request Clarification

If you receive your child’s records and suspect information about other students wasn’t redacted properly, you have the right to request clarification from the school.

Explain your concerns and ask them to either redact the information further or explain why it couldn’t be removed.

FERPA Exceptions for School Officials with Legitimate Educational Interest

There are exceptions to FERPA where school officials with a legitimate educational interest can access information about other students, even if it’s in your child’s record. However, this information wouldn’t be disclosed to you as a parent.

Directory Information

“Directory information” is generally considered less sensitive and can be disclosed without consent. This might include a student’s name, address, phone number, or grade level. However, schools must allow parents to opt-out of directory information disclosure.

School’s FERPA Policy

Every school should have a FERPA policy outlining procedures for accessing student records. Review your school’s policy to understand their specific processes and timelines for record requests.


FERPA protects student privacy, including information about other students present in your child’s education records. Schools are obligated to redact this information before disclosing the records to you. Understanding FERPA and your rights as a parent ensures you can access your child’s information while respecting the privacy of others. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your school’s administration.


  • Can I request my child’s records to be kept separate from other students’ information?

Unfortunately, no. Schools typically maintain student records chronologically or by class, which might involve information about other students.

  • What if I believe the school hasn’t redacted information properly?

If you have concerns, politely address them with the school official who provided the records. You can request further redaction or clarification.

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