WASHINGTON, D.C.— A new change to federal regulations specifies that school transportation workers may be designated as “school officials” to receive information from student records.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) amendment, which the Department of Education (DOE) put into effect in January, clarifies to whom a school system may disclose personally identifiable information from students’ educational records.
School transportation workers employed by the district and those employed by contractors are included in the DOE’s final rule.
“At the discretion of a school, school officials may include school transportation officials (including bus drivers), school nurses, practicum and fieldwork students, unpaid interns, consultants, contractors, volunteers and other outside parties providing institutional services and performing institutional functions,” the DOE wrote.
FERPA requires parental consent to disclose student information, except under certain conditions.
One condition is if the disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, who have “legitimate educational interests.”
Last year, pupil transportation groups submitted comments to the DOE asking that it include school transportation employees and contractors.
“It has long been a complaint of special-needs transportation providers that they do not receive critical information about students’ conditions because of schools’ concerns over confidentiality,” the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) wrote in a recent newsletter. “This rule should end that concern.”
NSTA noted that school districts still have to explain in their annual FERPA notifications to parents how they determine a “legitimate educational interest” and which outside parties have been designated as school officials.