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.