FERPA Disclosure FAQs

FAQs regarding the inadvertent Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) disclosure to a parent in October 2023.

1.  What happened?

Fairfax County Public Schools (“FCPS”) was recently made aware of a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) request that resulted in the inadvertent release of information to an FCPS parent. Specifically, during an in-person FERPA review of information related to the reviewer’s own child, information relating to other students was inadvertently and unknowingly made accessible to the parent who retained an electronic copy of that information. Thereafter, the parent redacted – blacked out – the information related to other students and published the redacted information. Since learning of its publication on November 1, 2023, FCPS has worked to contain and secure the deletion of the information involved in this matter. We are sorry that this incident occurred.  

2.  When did the incident occur?

The inadvertent disclosure of information occurred on or about October 19, 2023.   

3.  What did FCPS do upon learning of this incident?

Since learning that redacted information had been published on November 1, 2023, FCPS has worked to contain and secure the deletion of the information involved. We reviewed the materials involved in this matter and worked to assess who needed to receive notice.

We also engaged outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation into this matter. We have already put in place new procedures for handling of FERPA records requests going forward, including additional training and new policies for in-person FERPA records reviews. We will be working to put in place additional recommendations that flow from the independent investigation. 

As required by law, we have also notified the Virginia State Police’s Cyber Fusion Intelligence Center of this incident. 

4.  Why wasn’t I notified by FCPS about this incident earlier?

FCPS has worked as quickly and efficiently as possible to review and determine who has been impacted so that appropriate notifications can be made.

5.  What data was affected?

If information concerning your student was inadvertently made available during the FERPA review, you will receive a letter in the mail detailing the types of information related to your student that might have been impacted under the heading “What Information Was Involved.” Please review that section of the letter for information about your child. In general, impacted information about students consisted of unredacted spreadsheets – student names were not blacked out – that listed multiple students in the same spreadsheet. If you did not receive a letter, your child was not impacted.

6.  What will FCPS be doing to help the individuals whose data was taken?

Since first learning of the incident, FCPS has worked to secure deletion of the information involved. We have received assurances from the parent who accessed the information that they have no intention to use the information for any malicious purpose and that the parent will only share redacted information. FCPS is continuing to work to secure deletion of the data.  

7.  When will the independent investigation be complete?

We anticipate that the investigation will be completed shortly and the findings will be summarized soon.

8.  I have more questions, who do I contact? 

Please email FCPS at [email protected]. Staff will be back in touch with you regarding your questions.

Update on FERPA Disclosure

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid follows up with the community regarding an inadvertent Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) disclosure to a parent.