Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Educational Records Release

As a parent, it is critical to know what the public school's responsibility is for maintenance of a child's student record.  In addition, the school has strict legal parameters for who can access the record and the protocol that must be followed in order to do so.  The document to be used for some guidance on this protocol is the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).  This law is somewhat challenging to read/understand, but the basic premises are as follows for students UNDER the age of 18; once this age is reached, rights afforded to parents, transfer to students:

1.  FERPA deals with protecting the privacy of a student's educational records.
2.  A school may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from an
eligible student's education records to a third party unless the eligible student has provided
written consent, UNLESS an exception is established.  These exceptions are clearly spelled out in the complete document.

3.  A school MUST have established protocol in place for internal personnel to access a student's records.  Such assess must be reflected through a sign in/documentation process.  This is typically an area of challenge for public schools and should be spelled out to parents upon request, as per the law.
4.  Generally, a person who wishes to access a student's educational record must have a legitimate educational interest in the information.  A person who access student records and cannot prove said legitimate interest is considered "inappropriate person/agency."  Just because a school employee wishes to access a student's educational record does NOT mean that employee  automatically has a legitimate educational interest.  Such a legitimate interest must be substantiated.

Complaints to be filed must occur within a time period of 180 days.  If the complaint is investigated and the district is found to be in violation of a student's rights, a detailed protocol for remediation is issued to the district.

For specific details about the FERPA law, visit the website: