Asked in Education Law for California

Q: Can schools share emails with a lawyer without legal cause?

I recently asked a school for a nonattendance record and their laser chimed in to my surprise as the,what I had thought to be private convoy,didn't warrant a lawyer nor were legal actions being threatened or pursued. Is it legal to share personal emails outside the direct schools affiliates? Also,do you know if it is a legal right for an individual to obtain a did not attend notice?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ryan Ford
Ryan Ford
  • Education Law Lawyer
  • Seattle, WA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, under the circumstances you described, your school likely did not violate FERPA by sharing the information with outside counsel.

When schools and districts outsource institutional services or functions, FERPA permits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records to contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other third parties so long as the third party meets the criteria listed under 34 CFR 99.31. Outside counsel is a contracted third party who typically meets the requirements under 34 CFR 99.31.

It's also possible that the information you requested is not a student record for FERPA purposes or is directory information. If so, under the former scenario the information probably falls under the public records act, and, again, it was acceptable for the school to share your information with outside counsel. Under the latter scenario, directory information is also an exception under FERPA and, again, it was acceptable for the school to share your information with outside counsel.

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