FERPA and Emails: How to Avoid Typing Your Way to Liability

Des Moines, IA US
October 7, 2014

Have you ever considered drafting your educational e-mails carefully? Learn how to draft them carefully so as to avoid liability under federal and state laws.

E-mails have made things much more streamlined today, even in the area of education where students and parents communicate with school staff via e-mails for various reasons at the front. Under Federal and State law, such e-mails may be considered educational records that a parent or student in entitled to see, and such records can be ordered to be produced in other litigation contexts. Thus, it is important to carefully draft e-mails which can otherwise lead to potential liability. Emails can also be used to carefully create a record of events and even limit/extinguish liability in certain cases.

Timothy E. Gilsbach, ESQ. will explain when e-mails are considered student records under federal law and why is it significant to educational entities. Going further, the presentation will outline when e-mails are supposed to be used in the educational context, when they shouldn’t be and how to effectively use them in the educational context.


  • What is considered an educational record under FERPA?
  • When e-mails are considered educational records under FERPA?
  • When should e-mails be used to document educational issues and can be used to limit liability?
  • When should e-mails not be used to document educational issues or can create liability?
  • Other guidelines for the use of e-mail
  • Litigation holds and the effect on e-mails for educational entities


Timothy E. Gilsbach, ESQ., is an associate at Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell office and is member of the firm’s Education Group, concentrating his practice in the area of special education. Tim defends school districts, intermediate units and charter schools in all phases of special education litigation, from state level administrative hearings to federal court appeals. Tim also advised clients on a wide variety of other educational law issues, including FERPA and student records. Tim was previously associated with a regional law firm and focused his practice to litigation in a wide variety of civil matters. While in law school, Tim served as a law clerk to the Honorable J. Wesley Oler, Jr., of the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas. Tim is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law and Messiah College. Tim has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Rising Star in the area of school law for the last three years.

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
10/07/2014 - 12:00pm CDT
Event ends: 
10/07/2014 - 1:00pm CDT
Des Moines University
Ryan Hall 181
3200 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
United States

Available Credit

  • 1.00 CE Contact Hour(s)


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