Fairfax County Public Schools FERPA Violations

Breaking with FCPS Tradition, Superintendent Michelle Reid Chooses Systemic Change Instead of Staying the Course

Superintendent Michelle Reid just did what no FCPS superintendent or school board member has ever done (at least not to my knowledge).

1. Admitted FCPS is at fault for systemic FERPA noncompliance (maintenance of, access to, and security of student educational records) and is owning the systemic noncompliance;

2. Hired an independent law firm to do an investigation, committed to sharing the findings of the investigation, saw that the investigation was completed in what to my knowledge is record time for FCPS; and today shared a summary of the findings;

3. Committed to fully addressing the noncompliance and implementing the changes recommended as a part of the investigation findings;

UPDATED 12.13.23—Pro Tip: Don’t Believe Everything Fairfax County Public Schools Tells You

This article was published 12.12.23. It was updated 12.13.23 to include the message from Superintendent Michelle Reid, which FCPS posted to its site on 12.12.23.

The one thing that can be said about Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is that it is consistent. When it engages in noncompliance, rather than engaging in immediate transparency and honesty, it crafts messages that lead the public to believe someone else is at fault.

Why am I mentioning this?

Turns out FCPS left out some key information, such as that I have never and will never publish private information about kids—but I will publish information showing FCPS retaliates, is in noncompliance, and intentionally pushes inappropriate programs onto kids.

Update 12.3.23—Fairfax County Public Schools Trains Staff to Thwart FERPA Requests: Don’t Put it in Writing

1.9.23: Article first published. 12.3.23: Article updated. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has a history of training staff to take actions that prevent information being obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requests. Under FERPA, parents have the right to inspect their children’s education records. Under FOIA, parents have the right to access other records unrelated to their children as well as records related to their children, which aren’t considered educational records. However, if there’s nothing in writing, if students names are intentionally changed to initials and/or nicknames, or if staff include lawyers on emails just so they can claim that the records are privileged, neither parents nor students can access them.

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.

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.

But Wait, There’s More: FERPA Violations at FCPS Continue

July 14, 2021, I published the article “Fairfax County Public Schools Breaches Privacy of Thousands of Students; FERPA Noncompliance Continues”, which details Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) failure to keep thousands of students’ privacy secure.

I found one more breach.


Fairfax County Public Schools Breaches Privacy of Thousands of Students; FERPA Noncompliance Continues

June 29, 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) breached the privacy of thousands of students attending South County High School, Hayfield Secondary School, Edison High School, West Potomac High School, Lake Braddock Secondary School, and FCPS Online Campus.

The breach includes the students’ names, their FCPS identification numbers, their FCPS email addresses, the schools at which they are enrolled, the names of their parents and/or guardians, and the email addresses of their parents and/or guardians.