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Critical Event Support with SISC - Self Insured Schools of California-

Planning, coping, and recovery resources when tragedy strikes.

Coping with the Death of a Student or Staff Member (Part 3)

Legislative Authorities for Releasing Student Information

There are two legislative authorities for releasing student information: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). FERPA requires that local education agencies provide parents notification annually about the release of allowable information via a notice in a registration package, a notice in a local paper, a notice in the student handbook distributed each year, or a posting on the school's website. HIPAA ensures continued health insurance coverage to individuals who change jobs and establishes standards regarding the electronic sharing of health information. For purposes of HIPAA, covered entities include health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers that transmit health information in electronic form in connection with covered transactions. The table below outlines who is protected, what information is protected, what information can be released, and illustrative circumstances when information can be released without permission under each law.

Legislative Authorities for Releasing Student Information

Legislative Authorities for Student Information
Who Is ProtectedWhat Information Is ProtectedWhat Information Can Be ReleasedIllustrative CircumstancesWhen Information Can Be Released Without Permission
  • Privacy interests of students, of any age, enrolled in a public (and some private) elementary, secondary, or postsecondary institution
  • Parents* have
    1. Right to access and amend children's education records
    2. Some control over the disclosure of these records
  • Education agencies and institutions cannot share without the parents' consent
    1. Student records
    2. Personally identifiable information in the record
Education records that contain
  • Grades
  • Classes
  • Class schedules
  • Teachers
  • Personal notes made by teachers or staff if kept in sole possession of the maker, not accessible to any other person, except a substitute, used as a memory aid
  • Directory information:
    • Student's name
    • Student's address
    • Telephone number
    • Date and place of birth
    • Honors and awards
    • Dates of attendance
    • Family members' names
    • School activities
    • Height and weight of athletes
  • Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit for law enforcement purposes
  • Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas: Schools must make a reasonable effort to notify the parent or student in advance.
  • Health and safety emergencies: Information can be released to appropriate officials if information contained in the record is needed to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
  • State and local authorities within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to a specific state law: Information can be released to state and local juvenile justice authorities after the school receives written certification that information will not be disclosed to any other agency, organization, or third party without the parent's permission, except as allowed in state law.
Covered entities, such as health care workers, which include school nurses, only if they transmit health information electronically in connection with a HIPAA transaction Protected information is any information held by the school nurse or school that identifies an individual. It relates to past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition; or past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual. Information considered education records under FERPA is exempt from HIPAA requirements as long as the information is in the aggregate and does not include personally identifiable information such as the directory information stated above, or any information that could easily be traced to a student's identity. Information considered education records under FERPA as long as the information is in the aggregate and does not include personally identifiable information
Source: National Forum on Education Statistics (NFES). (2006). Forum guide to the privacy of student information: A resource for schools (NFES 2006–805). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
*Parent is defined as: natural or adoptive parent, a legal guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in absence of a parent or guardian.

U.S. Department of Education, Emergency Response and Crisis Management (ERCM) Technical Assistance Center. (2007). Coping with the death of a student or staff member. ERCM Express, 3(2). Retrieved January 10, 2023, from

More about this Topics

  • Supervisors Can Help

  • Guidelines for Student Prevention Strategies

  • Coping with the Death Strategies for Recovery

  • Coping with Effective Bereavement Support

  • Coping with Information Sharing