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Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO): Duties & Authority

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Every law would remain ineffective if it were only in writing. The work of official entities makes the law effective, and this lesson explores how the Family Policy Compliance Office works to protect family rights in education.

Who Can Help?

Imagine this scenario: your child's school tells you that her/his grades are not for you to see. You feel your rights have been denied and want to complain, but to whom? You know that the right to justice exists, however, this concept sounds somewhat abstract if you don't know where to go for help. Well, when it comes to family rights in the context of children's education, the Family Policy Compliance Office is there to help. Let's learn about its authority and duties.

Basic Authority

The authority of the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) is to administer the laws that provide privacy rights to parents and students. To administer a law means to support practical cases when people feel their rights are denied.

THE FPCO is a division of the Department of Education and it administers two laws. Below you have an explanation of these laws, along with an explanation of how FPCO works.

  1. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - FPCO ensures that students' records remain confidential as FERPA mandates. For example, Stephanie's grades are for herself and her parents to see. They can complain to FPCO if the school releases her grades to others without their consent, or as in the example above, they are denied access to her grades.
  2. The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) - FPCO ensures that data that arises from surveys and behavioral evaluations of a student remain confidential as PPRA mandates. For example, Stephanie's school has the results of a survey about sexual attitudes in children between 9 and 10 years of age. The results for Stephanie are confidential, and only her parents can consent to their release.

In addition, the FPCO administers the military recruiter provisions under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This provision requires schools to provide lists with students' names, addresses, and telephone numbers to military recruiters, if they request them, unless parents specifically express that their child's data remain confidential. FPCO ensures this provision is in effect.

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