Ask the FERPA Professor

Dear FERPA Professor,

One of our campus Safety Directors contacted me in regards to releasing a class list to local law enforcement authorities about a crime that was committed in a classroom on campus. They wanted to know if they are able to comply with the request from local authorities and give them a list of the students who were in class the day the crime was committed by another student in the class.

My initial reaction is no, as this is not directory information – it would be a list of students who were in a specific course on a specific day and time. However, I wanted to verify this before I tell my campus safety director a subpoena would be needed.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

Ann Eshal


Dear Ann,

You are correct in your conclusion. Both the list of students who attend the class and the attendance of those students on the date in question would be education records on the students and are not directory information items. Thus, the students would have to provide the consent required under §99.30 of the FERPA regulations or meet the conditions of one of the exceptions to signed consent found in §99.31. One of those, as you noted, is §99.31(a)(9), the subpoena exception. Because this is for a law enforcement purpose, so long as the subpoena said "do not notify," then the institution would not need to notify the students prior to complying with the subpoena [§99.31(a)(9)(ii)(B)]. (Find this language on page 161 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.)

I hope this is helpful in addressing your inquiry.


The FERPA Professor

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