A child’s educational records often contain private personal information about the child and the family. In the course of determining a child’s eligibility for special education services and designing a program to meet the child’s needs, schools may acquire information about the child’s social and medical history. Sometimes, that record may include medical and other personal information about other members of the family. That information is private and confidential and the IDEA regulations at 34 CFR 300.623 outline a school district’s obligations to protect the confidentiality of that information. Schools must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information when that information is collected, stored, disclosed, and destroyed.
. Personally identifiable means information that contains:
(1) the name of the child, the parent, or other family member;
(2) the child’s address;
(3) a personal identifier such as a social security or a student number; or
(4) a list of personal characteristics or other information that would make it possible to identify the child with a “reasonable certainty”.
Moreover, school districts must assign a specific person to be responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of personally identifiable information. Additionally, school staff that collect or use this information must be trained in the State’s confidentiality procedures under the IDEA and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. And, finally school districts must keep a current listing of the names and positions of all employees who have access to personally identifying information. That list must be available for public inspection.
Access to Records and Consent to Release
Of course, parents have the right to inspect and review their child’s educational records. Parent’s access rights include the right to have information in the record interpreted or explained, the right to get copies of the record, and the right to have a representative of the parent review the records.
Generally, personally identifiable information may not be disclosed without parental consent. For example, if a parent wanted the school district to allow the parent’s representative or attorney to review the records, the parent would need to consent and authorize the district to provide that access. But, information may be released, without parent consent, to officials of participating agencies in order to comply with the IDEA.
Fees for Records
While parents have the right to obtain copies of their child’s educational records, the school district may charge a reasonable fee for copying the records. But the school district may not charge a fee that effectively prevents the parent from exercising their right to inspect and review the records.
Amending School Records
Parents who believe that information contained in their child’s educational records is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the child’s privacy and other rights may ask the school to amend the child’s records. The school district must decide, within a reasonable time, whether to amend the record or not. If the district decides not to amend the record, the district must tell the parent and inform the parent about the right to a hearing. If parents request a hearing it must be provided. Hearings regarding amending a student’s records are conducted under the FERPA Rules at 34 CFR 99.22. If the hearing officer determines the information is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the child’s rights, then the district must amend the record and inform the parents in writing that the record has been amended.
But, even if the information is not found to be inaccurate, misleading, or to violate the child’s rights, the parents still have the right to include in the child’s records a statement commenting on the information and disagreeing with the hearing decision. So, parents have the right to include a statement in the child’s records explaining why the parents feel that particular portion of the record is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the child’s rights. The parents’ statement must be maintained in the child’s records and if the records are disclosed to other agencies or individuals, the parents’ statement must also be disclosed.
Filed under: children with disabilities, early intervention and part C, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Special Education Law | 1 Comment »