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DOE ISSUES LANDMARK FINDINGS LETTER RELATED TO FERPA AND ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES




Winter 2018


SCHOOL LAW ADVISORY
Volume 30, No. 1
 

In January, the Family Policy Compliance Office (“FPCO”), the office within the U.S. Department of Education (“DOE”) that enforces the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), released the first findings letter to address a FERPA complaint related to the use of third-party online educational service providers. The decision involved the Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania, and was prompted by a parent complaint from 2012 (this date is important, for reasons discussed later). The Angora letter (a copy of which can be found at:  https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/resources/letter-agora-cybercharter), provides useful guidance about how the FPCO interprets FERPA’s parental consent requirement with respect to school use of online educational services. It may also signal increased interested by the DOE in investigating and addressing FERPA issues related to the use of online educational services.

This article summarizes the Angora letter and provides some thoughts on steps schools should consider taking to ensure they are using online educational services in a way that complies with FERPA and the FPCO’s interpretation of the law.

The Agora Letter
The Agora letter addresses two allegations by a parent of a student who wanted to enroll in the Agora Cyber Charter School.

The first allegation is that Agora forced the parent to accept the terms and conditions of certain third-party...To continue reading, visit https://schoollaw.com/school-law-advisory


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