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NYSED Clarifies Use of Directory Information for Districts

In the first week of June, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) sent a memorandum to school districts clarifying the use of directory information. As “directory information policy” is a recommended element to include on district websites, it’s important for districts to understand exactly how this inclusion should look. From the correspondence:  

"Directory Information is information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance that a school may disclose without parental consent. The release of Directory Information under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is authorized by federal regulations. An educational agency must comply with these provisions when implementing a Directory Information policy. That section requires that educational agencies notify parents and eligible students of:
  • The types of personally identifiable information (PII) the education agency has designated as directory (i.e., name, grade, etc.)
  • The right of parents or eligible (i.e., over 18) students to refuse to let the educational agency designate any or all those types of information about the students as directory; and
  • How a parent or eligible student can notify the educational agency in writing that they do not want any or all of those types of information about student designated directory."
nysed releases updated ed law 2-d information regarding directories

Continuing, the memo further explains how directory information can be used, irrespective of FERPA authorization:

"Education Law 2-d imposes additional requirements that educational agencies must consider when disclosing or releasing information - even if the disclosure is authorized by FERPA. When sharing PII, educational agencies must ensure that:
  • the release of any information, including Directory Information, will benefit students and the educational agency; and
  • a student’s PII is not being sold or released for any commercial or marketing purpose, defined as the sale of student data or its use or disclosure for purposes of receiving remuneration, whether directly or indirectly, for advertising purposes, or to develop, improve or market products or services to students."
The boldface items listed above are the ones that are mostly likely to affect the day-to-day of an educational institution. The guidance also points out that this isn’t intended to be “legal advice,” and encourages districts to work with their attorneys to determine whether their directory information complies with FERPA. 
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