UPDATED 11.20.23—FERPA Violation Report Card: Fairfax County Public Schools

This article was updated November 20, 2023, to include more FERPA violations. FCPS has been breaching the privacy of staff and students for years. This article details FCPS FERPA violations between 2017 and 2023. It includes breaches FCPS inadvertently provided to me, breaches related to my own family (and about which I filed state complaints), breaches other FCPS families shared with me, as well as the ransomware attack of FCPS that occurred in 2020.

Fairfax County Public Schools Continues to Violate FERPA; FCPS Released Personally-Identifiable Information for 110 More Students

Fairfax County Public Schools continues its longstanding noncompliance of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations by once again failing to maintain the security of personally identifiable information related to students.

This time, it released unredacted records for the 2022-23 math and reading SOL records for 74 students and the reading records for 36 students.

Fairfax County Public Schools Trains Staff to Thwart FERPA Requests: Don’t Put it in Writing

Fairfax County Public Schools has a history of training staff to take actions that prevent information being obtained via Freedom of Information Act and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requests.

Under FERPA, parents have the right to inspect their children’s education records. However, if there’s nothing in writing, there’s nothing to inspect.

FCPS at Fault for Two More Privacy Breaches; Released Mental Health Information About Almost 60 Thomas Jefferson High School Students

October 8th and 28th of 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) again breached the privacy of its students, to include sharing mental health-related information for about 60 Thomas Jefferson High School students.

Fairfax County Public Schools Found in Violation of FERPA; Virginia Department of Education Refuses to Find FCPS at Fault for Systemic Noncompliance

November 26, 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) was found in noncompliance of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

VDOE concluded that that the legal invoices at the core of the investigation, which contain personally identifiable information (PII) about children, “are maintained by the school division, therefore they are education records under FERPA and this matter is within our jurisdiction.” In addition, VDOE rejected the following argument posed by FCPS, thus acknowledging that initials constitute PII:

“Under the definition of PII, information is PII if it is possible to identify a student with reasonable certainty. In this case, students E1 and E2 have a different last name as the parent, and so the disclosure of parent name does not make the students identifiable.”

Although VDOE determined the matter in its jurisdiction and once again found FCPS noncompliance, VDOE refused to place weight on the thousands of students whose privacy FCPS has breached over the past five years, and did not “characterize” FCPS’s noncompliance as systemic.

FCPS OSEPS history of breaches

FCPS Office of Special Education Procedural Support Has a History of Privacy Breaches

Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Special Education Procedural Support has a history of failing to secure confidential information about children, to the point that one could say privacy breaches are an area in which FCPS OSEPS excels.

Virginia is for lovers and breaches of children's privacy

Virginia Isn’t Just For Lovers; Virginia Is For Breaches Of Children’s Privacy, Too

Virginia Has a History of Breaching the Privacy of Children

For the second time in as many years, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (VDBHDS) has breached the privacy of children.

October 6, 2021, just one day before the VDBHDS breach, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) announced that it is opening an investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), focused on systemic privacy violations.

Fairfax County Public Schools Violated Privacy of Chesterbrook ES Student and Family

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is at fault for another FERPA violation, this time for a Chesterbrook Elementary School student and family.

The document is a student’s care card, which (depending on the student) can include sensitive information such as medical issues, prescription medications, medical professionals the child is seeing, and so on.