FERPA and Video Surveillance

Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety:A Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
for Elementary and Secondary Schools



Security Videos

Schools are increasingly using security cameras
as a tool to monitor and improve student
safety. Images of students captured on security
videotapes that are maintained by the school’s
law enforcement unit are not considered
education records under FERPA. Accordingly,
these videotapes may be shared with parents
of students whose images are on the video
and with outside law enforcement authorities,
as appropriate. Schools that do not have a
designated law enforcement unit might consider
designating an employee to serve as the “law
enforcement unit” in order to maintain the
security camera and determine the appropriate
circumstances in which the school would
disclose recorded images.


Transfer of Education Records

Finally, under FERPA, school officials may
disclose any and all education records, including
disciplinary records and records that were created
as a result of a student receiving special education
services under Part B of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act, to another school or
postsecondary institution at which the student
seeks or intends to enroll. While parental consent
is not required for transferring education records,
the school’s annual FERPA notification should
indicate that such disclosures are made. In the
absence of information about disclosures in the
annual FERPA notification, school officials must
make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent
about the disclosure, unless the parent initiated
the disclosure. Additionally, upon request,
schools must provide a copy of the information
disclosed and an opportunity for a hearing.
See 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(2) and § 99.34(a).

School officials are regularly asked to balance
the interests of safety and privacy for individual
students. While the Family Educational Rights
and Privacy Act (FERPA) generally requires schools
to ask for written consent before disclosing a
student’s personally identifiable information to
individuals other than his or her parents, it also
allows schools to take key steps to maintain
school safety. Understanding the law empowers
school officials to act decisively and quickly when
issues arise.