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

5.C. Managing the Review

It is advisable to establish in a district’s student records policy procedures for responding to requests to review individual records. The following could be considered in the procedures:

  • Written request: Parents should be asked to submit a written request to review their child’s education record using a request form developed by the district. See exhibit 5–2 for a sample form. The form should explain the relevant federal and state laws, describe the access procedures, and identify the official designated by the agency or school to handle the request. This form should be made available at school offices, although requests should be directed to the district office.
  • Referral to central office: Since teachers and other school-based professionals have the most frequent contact with parents, these professionals often receive informal requests for information about a student. If the scope of these requests is beyond the day-to-day communication about a student and the information can be found only in the education record, teachers should refer requesters to the appropriate school or district office. This would ensure that all requests are handled appropriately and uniformly.
  • Verification of request: Upon receipt of a written request, the requester’s identification should be verified as soon as possible. Staff should check the education record and determine if there is no apparent reason, such as a legally binding document, to believe the person may not have the rights of access to the student’s record. Additional procedures may be added to verify the authenticity of the request. For instance, staff may call the parents using the telephone number listed in the school’s records to verify if they have actually made the request.

Since, according to FERPA, an agency or school must comply with requests to review a record within 45 days or less from the date of receipt of the request, school officials should make arrangements for access as promptly as possible. FERPA specifies that a school or district may not destroy the record for a student if a request for access to that record is pending. It is also advisable to determine if state laws require a quicker response (i.e., less than 45 days).

FERPA also indicates that no funds will be made available under any program to any agency or institution that has a policy of denying or preventing parents of students from reviewing the education records of their children. If any material or document in the education record of a student includes information on more than one student, the student’s parents have the right to review records pertaining only to their child.

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