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Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies

Section 5: Providing Parents Access to Their Child’s Records

Overview

Sometimes parents worry about what information is kept about their children, and whether the information is correct. To protect the privacy of students and their families, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) grants parents the right to review, amend, and challenge the contents of their child’s education record. Section 2 includes a discussion of FERPA’s requirements; this section provides additional suggestions to implement and facilitate the process.

GOALS

  • To review parents’ rights of access to their child’s records
  • To provide practical tips for implementing step-by-step procedures that allow parents access to their child’s records

Key Points

  • Parents should be informed of their rights under FERPA, although the actual means of notification is the decision of the agency or school.
  • It is important for an agency or school to prepare written procedures for handling record requests.
  • A designated official should manage the review process. This official can verify the identification of the parents, explain the laws, help parents understand the record, and refer parents to appropriate resources.
  • The agency or school should verify the authenticity of requests and comply within 45 days.
  • Agencies or schools may, but are not required to, provide copies of the records.
  • If it is not feasible for the parents to review the records because of distance, the school should provide a copy of the record.
  • While agencies or schools are not allowed to charge for the search and retrieval of records, they may charge for copying time and postage.
  • Written procedures can guide parents through the process of challenging their child’s record. The school or district may provide a form to streamline the process.
  • Parents should be notified as soon as a hearing is scheduled. The hearing may be presided over by an agency or school official, if this person is considered a third party.
  • Evidence presented in the hearing should be documented. The decision should be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing.
  • It is important to follow through the decision of the hearing.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education