Personal privacy is something we all value and understand the need for. This is especially true as we daily face the challenges of unlimited access to data on the internet. Cyber criminals hack our email accounts, steal our credit card numbers and even our identities. Obviously, we understand the need for and are thankful for procedures institutions have implemented to protect our personal information. Treading along the line between security and access to your own information can sometimes be tricky.
Sometimes as schools work to protect your child’s privacy you may find yourself unsure what records you are able to request and what data you’re allowed access to. You may also be a little unsure what rights you have concerning what you see in the records. The Federal law that addresses these questions is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Specifics pertaining to children with disabilities are addressed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Your basic rights include:
- The right to see your child’s records. These include report cards, disciplinary records, contact and family information, attendance records, standardized testing results and any special education records. You may request to see them at any time and a school is not allowed to refuse you access. You are also entitled to see any video footage of your child that the school keeps. However, the school is not required to share any personal notes made by counselors or teachers.
- The right to keep your child’s records private. The school must get your written consent before anyone outside of the system can see your child’s records. An exception to this is when they send records to another school or college acceptance board.
- The right to correct your child’s records. You may ask the school to change any inaccuracies in the records (i.e., a B notated for a class when the child actually received an A) and anything you think violates your child’s privacy. If the school officials do not agree with you, you have the right to request a records’ hearing. If you lose at the hearing, you have the right to put a written statement in the records explaining the problem.
The bottom line here is that you have a right to see information concerning your child – just ask! This article is a general summary of FERPA and we understand that you may have more specific questions regarding your child’s records. If you need any help navigating interactions with your child’s school, an advocate who has been in these situations before is invaluable. Reach out to us if you are unsure of what the next best step should be for you and your child.