David L. Keller
Kentucky School Boards Association
260 Democrat Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601
Dear Dr. Keller:
You have written our office requesting a clarification of our recent opinion on the Federal
Education Records Privacy Act (FERPA). OAG 93-5. You express several concerns regarding
potential violations of FERPA when parent members of the School Based Decision Making
Council are allowed to review confidential student records. Consequently, we wish to issue a
clarification of OAG 93-5.
OAG 93-5 sets forth the background and intent of FERPA. This opinion also describes
the statutory authority of school councils including their duty to establish policy in several
delineated areas. KRS 160.345(2)(j). We stated that in "order to achieve the education goals
envisioned by the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) the school council must be
intricately aware of the grades, test scores and special needs of the students attending the school."
OAG 93-5. We found that a school could release student records to a school council member if
the local school district or school had an appropriate policy finding that the school council
members were school officials pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 1232 g(b)(1)(A). Additionally, the policy
must define the "legitimate educational interests" of the school council members. 34 CFR
Our opinion was solely advisory and we warned that the final arbiter of who is considered
a "school official" is the Federal Department of Education. We also cautioned that allowing
unauthorized individuals to review confidential student records could jeopardize the receipt of
federal funding. Until this issue is clarified by the Federal department of Education this letter
contains our advice regarding disclosing confidential student records to parent members on
Because of the risk in allowing unauthorized persons to review confidential student
records we believe that the best policy is to strictly interpret the "school officials" exception to
FERPA and not include parent members of school councils in the definition of "school officials"
for purposes of 20 U.S.C. 1232 g(b)(1)(A). While we understand that the school council needs
significant data involving the students prior to forming school policies, we believe that this
information can be compiled by the principal and other unauthorized school personnel in an
unidentifiable manner and presented to the council members.
As stated above our opinions are only advisory; however, this conservative approach will
protect the school districts, the schools and the individual school personnel and school council
members from allegations of FERPA violations resulting from an unauthorized record
If the Federal Department of Education determines that parent members of a school
council are authorized to review confidential student records pursuant to FERPA, we would
advise the school district to require the parent school council members to sign a confidentiality
agreement whereby the parent must agree not to disclose the contents of the identifiable student
records outside of his or her official duties.
Assistant Attorney General