ADE Director's Communication Memo Form

Memo Number : LS-10-006

Date Created : 08/19/2009


Co-op Directors
Elementary Principals
Middle School Principals
High School Principals
other: Food Service Directors

Type of Memo: Regulatory
Response Required: No
Section:   Learning Services - Dr. Laura Bednar, Assistant Commissioner
Releasing Names of Students Participating in National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

Regulatory Authority:
Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) [42 U.S.C. 1758] Section 9

Contact Person:
Polly Davis or Dana Davis

Phone Number:


This commissioner’s memo is in response to questions that have arisen regarding the release of names of students participating in the NSLP to school personnel responsible for providing information about the Title I Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program to parents of students eligible to participate in SES.

Item F-5 (page 26) of the Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance, published, January 14, 2009, addresses this issue and is presented below:

F-5. May an Local Education Agency (LEA) use information from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to determine student eligibility for SES?

The law specifically requires an LEA to use the same data to determine eligibility for SES that it uses for making within-district Title I, Part A allocations to schools; historically, most LEAs use school lunch data for that purpose. However, determining student eligibility for SES (unlike determining Title I allocations) requires identifying individual students as coming from low-income families. This has led to questions about whether LEAs may use school lunch data to determine student eligibility for SES while abiding by the student privacy provisions of the NSLP.

Section 9 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) [42 U.S.C. 1758] establishes requirements and limitations regarding the release of information about children certified for free and reduced price meals provided under the NSLP. The NSLA allows school officials responsible for determining free and reduced price meal eligibility to disclose aggregate information about children certified for free and reduced price school meals. Additionally, the statute permits determining officials to disclose the names of individual children certified for free and reduced price school meals and the child’s eligibility status (whether certified for free meals or reduced price meals) to persons directly connected with the administration or enforcement of a Federal or State education program.

Because Title I is a Federal education program, determining officials may disclose a child’s eligibility status to persons directly connected with, and have a need to know, a child’s free and reduced price meal eligibility status in order to administer the Title I SES requirements. The statute, however, does not allow the disclosure of any other information obtained from the free and reduced price school meal application or obtained through direct certification. School officials should keep in mind that the intent of the confidentiality provisions in the NSLA is to limit the disclosure of a child’s eligibility status to those who have a “need to know” to properly administer and enforce a Federal education program. As such, schools should establish procedures that limit access to a child’s eligibility status to as few individuals as possible.

School officials, prior to disclosing individual information on the NSLP eligibility of individual students, should enter into a memorandum of understanding or other agreement to which all involved parties (including both school lunch administrators and educational officials) would adhere. This agreement should specify the individuals who would have access to the information, how the information would be used in implementing Title I requirements, and how the information would be protected from unauthorized uses and third-party disclosures, as well as include a statement of the penalties for misuse or improper disclosure of the information.

Additional information on this issue is provided in a December 17, 2002 letter from the Departments of Education and Agriculture (available at


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