Letter to the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) Seeking Guidance on Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath September 16, 2005

Mr. LeRoy S. Rooker, Director
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920

Dear Mr. Rooker,

I write to solicit your guidance in connection with AACRAO™s efforts to assist educational institutions that have been adversely affected by hurricane Katrina.

As you are aware, colleges and universities from across the nation have reached out to students from institutions that have been forced to temporarily shut down by allowing the students to register for courses without going through the regular admissions process”often with little documentation of previous course-work and without payment of tuition. As the affected schools in the Gulf Coast plan their recovery, one of the most critical challenges they face is to track and contact their students in order to apprise them of much-needed information about matters ranging from financial aid, to academic advising, to transfer of credit, to graduation issues.

A number of our member institutions have requested AACRAO™s assistance in locating their students currently enrolled at other institutions and have specifically asked that we devise a procedure for them to contact their students. We have discussed this need with the National Student Clearinghouse, which has agreed to collaborate with us on this project, and which has the technical infrastructure to provide sending institutions with information on where their students are currently enrolled. To establish basic communication with evacuated students, we would like to be able to supply their names, current addresses, and telephone numbers to their home institutions in the Gulf Coast. We are concerned that at a significant number of receiving institutions where the students are temporarily enrolled, some of these data elements may not be defined as directory information. We would like to ask for your guidance as to whether the provision of such basic contact information to institutions that the affected students would have attended, were it not for effects of the hurricane, is allowable under FERPA without a signed written release.

In the interest of assisting the students with the numerous challenges they confront, we believe it is critically urgent that both the home institutions in the Gulf Coast and the host institutions where evacuated students are temporarily enrolled be allowed to communicate with the students and with each other.  As always, I thank you in advance for your assistance.


Jerome H. Sullivan

Executive Director

FPCO Responds to AACRAO Request for Katrina Guidance (October 11, 2005) (.pdf)