The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is the legislation that covers a child’s educational file and information at school. FERPA was signed into law in 1974, pre-dating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by more than 20 years. Federally, it is less “strict” compared to HIPAA, allowing some personal identifiers to be disclosed to those who are neither the student nor the guardians, including home address, date of birth and grade level. Individual states, however, can place heavier restrictions on the sharing of educational data. Why is this relevant to audiologists? Because hearing health records that are shared with the schools becomes a part of the student’s educational record. Educational Audiologists are required to comply with both HIPAA and FERPA. Under HIPAA, all test results, chart notes, and reports are a part of the patient’s health records fall under the security and privacy rules and must be shared per the patient request. FERPA, on the other hand, allows for “desk drawer files” to be kept by teachers that a teacher may keep private during the school year, but must be shredded at the end of the school year. Educational Audiologists, as allied health professionals with state licensure, are prohibited from keeping private files and must disclose ALL notes and information they keep on their students, including electronic correspondence which contains identifying information.