What Parents Need to Know About School Directory Information

Most parents are unaware that schools can compromise their children’s privacy and possibly their safety by sharing private information like their child’s phone number, home address, date of birth,  email, and photos with anyone without consent. The good news is that parents already have the right to opt out of data sharing.

Below are a few key facts about what parents can do to protect their children:

  • Your School Can Share Detailed Information: Under the federal law called the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), any public school that receives federal funding (most public schools) can share “Directory Information” about students with any third party upon request. Any third party means anyone.
  • Private & Personal Information is Included: “Directory Information” under the law is extensive and includes personal details such as place and date of birth, home address, phone number, email address, activities, photos, height, weight, and other information.
  • No Consent is Required:  Schools do not need consent from parents or students before releasing a student’s personal information to anyone who requests it.  Schools can’t release the information ifan opt out is on file for a student for that school year.
  • Your Ability to Opt-Out is Limited to Certain Times of the Year:  Most schools allow opt out for a period of time at the beginning of the school year, The opt out period varies widely and can be as short as a week
  • Parents Need to Act Now: This is why World Privacy Forum launched #OptOutKids now as parents are focused on getting their children ready to return to school. According to WPF Executive Director Pam Dixon, “The beginning of the school year is the key time when the school information opt-out period opens up. Parents need to stop schools from sending detailed information about their kids from going to unknown third parties. It can be a risk for identity theft and worse, ” she says.
  • How to Opt Out: Parents can opt out by calling their school and requesting a directory information (or FERPA, pronounced “fer-puh”) opt out form from their child’s school. Some schools put opt out forms on the school web site. Parents should act as soon as possible to make sure they do not miss their opportunity.
  • Protect Others: Spread the word: Educating parents is critical. We are asking everyone to share our opt out video with friends, family, co-workers, teachers, and on social media. For social media, please share along with the hashtag #optoutkids.
  • For More Information: If you would like more details about FERPA opt outs, and how-to instructions, visit our Student Privacy 101 Page.
  • Sample Opt Out Form: You can print our opt out form and take it in to your child’s school. Use our form if you can’t locate your school’s form.  Sample FERPA opt out form.


For more information, see our Student Privacy 101 Series.