On January 14, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the "Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2013." The Act amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which generally prohibits the release of personally identifiable information from student education records without written consent from a parent or eligible student.
Before the Act's passage, the records of foster youth could not be easily obtained by agency caseworkers. A child welfare worker was required to obtain parental consent for the transfer of education records or receive a court order from a judge. The Act creates an exception for "an agency caseworker or other representative of a state or local child welfare agency...when such agency or organization is legally responsible...for the case and protection of the student." This provides easier access to the education records of foster youth by their caseworkers. Child welfare workers can share or discuss those records only with individuals or other entities "engaged in addressing the student's education needs."
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act also allows schools to release a student's education records under court order without notifying the parent if the parent is involved in a court proceeding regarding child abuse and neglect or child dependency and the court order is issued as a result of those proceedings.
One practical challenge will be making requests for access a routine part of child abuse, neglect or dependency cases.
The law became effective on January 14, 2013. A copy of the Act is available online at http://beta.congress.gov/112/bills/s3472/112s3472enr_pdf.pdf. If you have any additional questions, please contact OSBA's division of legal services at (614) 540-4000.