It's Back-to-School Time: Parents, Do You Know Where Your Child's School Records Are?

The PRC advises parents to pay close attention to documents and forms that students bring home from school. Among them is likely to be an opt-out form regarding the disclosure of students' education records.

Under federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, public schools can release what's known as "directory information" to third parties without the express consent of parents. Directory information is NOT a small category. It can include the student's name, address, phone number, and date of birth, as well as major field of study, activities and sports, weight and height if on athletic teams, dates of attendance, and degrees and awards.

Schools must provide parents and students of adult age the opportunity to opt-out of the disclosure of such information. But if the parent does not sign the form instructing the school to NOT disclose the student's personal information to others, the school is free to do so.

Under another federal law, the No Child Left Behind Act, schools must give parents and adult-age students the ability to opt-out of having contact information provided to military recruiters.

To learn more about these issues, read our Fact Sheet on education privacy,