In general, education data are classified as private under Minnesota state law. Federal law also generally protects the privacy rights of parents and students. Under these state and federal laws only parents, students, and school officials may access education data. Under FERPA, institutions must notify parents or eligible students of their rights to inspect this data, amend or correct inaccurate data, and provide consent to others to access education data. An example of such a notification is the Department of Education's Model Notification for Elementary & Secondary Schools.
While education data is private and only available to parents, students, and school officials, there are several exceptions. Data such as directory information may be public, and some education data may be shared in health and safety emergencies, or regarding alcohol and controlled substance violations.
More information on how federal laws protect student privacy is available on the U.S. Department of Education's Protecting Student Privacy site. Additionally, the Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology's Privacy site contains information for providers and families on protecting their electronic education data.
“Directory information” is defined by FERPA as certain education data that are available to anyone in the public. Under federal law, the school must notify parents each year which education data it decides are “directory information.” The Department of Education's site provides a Model Notice for Directory Information. Parents have the right to refuse (“opt-out”) to let the school include any of their student’s data as directory information; the annual notice to parents must explain how they can refuse. Examples of directory information are: a student’s name, home address, telephone number, email address, photograph, date and place of birth, enrollment status and major field of study. Directory information does not include Social Security Numbers, or any data that would be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
Yes. Minnesota Statutes, section 13.32, subdivision 5a requires secondary schools to provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of students in grades 11 and 12 to military recruiting officers upon request. Meanwhile, section 7908 of Title 20, U.S. Code, requires schools to provide the name, address, and telephone listing of "each secondary school student" to military recruiters upon request. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Defense's policy is to request information only about high school juniors and seniors. (See the U.S. Department of Education's "Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Military Recruiter Provisions of ESEA.")
However, both laws require secondary schools to provide notice to parents and students older than 18 of the right to refuse ("opt-out") to the disclosure of such data to military recruiters. If a parent or student opts-out, then the data cannot be disclosed to a military recruiter without prior written consent.
Additionally, section 13.32, subdivision 5a limits military recruiters' use of this data to the purpose of providing information about military service, education benefits, and other similar military opportunities as well as prohibits subsequent sharing of data with anyone except recruiting personnel of military services.
Under both federal and state law, teachers’ (or substitutes’) notes that they don’t share with anyone else – commonly called “desk drawer notes” – are not considered government data and cannot be accessed as part of a data request. Under state law, these notes must be destroyed at the end of each school year.
A related topic - under state law, notes made by "supervisors, administrators or related personnel" are considered government data so parents can access those notes.
Sometimes schools must or may share education data with other units of government. They also may share education data when a student transfers to another school.
Schools may also share education data to contractors, volunteers, or other third parties who are considered "school officials" under the school's criteria. The annual FERPA notice must specify the criteria for determining what school or outside parties meet this definition.