Accessing Your Child’s Records Under FERPA
What Is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA applies to all public schools, colleges, and universities in the United States.
Also known as the Buckley Amendment, FERPA was originally passed in 1974 and it has been amended by Congress several times. FERPA has two major objectives:
- Granting parental access to student records
- Preventing the illegitimate disclosure of students records to third parties
Parental Rights Under FERPA
When a student reaches age 18, FERPA rights are transferred to the student, who is then referred to as an eligible student. Under FERPA, parents and eligible students have the right to request access to all student information that is part of the student’s educational record, which is defined as any school information that meets the following criteria:
- Directly relates to the student
- Is maintained by a central custodian such as a registrar
Parents and eligible students have the right to view a student’s educational record for no fee at any time. The school has the right to charge you for copies of the information unless you live far away from the school and are unable to view the records in person.
If you feel that your child’s student record contains misleading information, you have the right to ask school officials to make a correction. If the school refuses, you have the right to request a formal hearing. Parents and eligible students also have the right to place a statement in the student record responding to any information that they feel is incorrect or inappropriate.
School directories may contain a student’s name, telephone number, address, date and place of birth, dates of attendance, and honors and awards received. Under FERPA, schools must inform parents annually that they have the right to make a written request that will result in the removal of any information about their child that they don’t want to appear in a school directory.
When Are Schools Allowed to Release Student Records to Third Parties?
Releasing student information to third parties is only permissible when it has been established that the third party has a legitimate interest in the information: This may include:
- Schools where a student has transferred
- Health and safety officials during an emergency
- Accrediting organizations
- Appropriate financial aid parties
- Organizations conducting studies on behalf of the school
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
- In compliance with a subpoena or judicial order
- State and local juvenile justice officials
Information That’s Not Protected by FERPA
In many cases, school officials attempt to use FERPA as an excuse to shield themselves from releasing embarrassing information. The following types of information are not protected by FERPA:
- Minutes of public committee meetings
- Findings of internal investigations
- Tax money paid out in lawsuits
- Security footage
- Classroom quizzes
- Counselor or teacher emails
- Blog posts
- Records from student organizations
- A teacher’s personal notes
- Photos taken on school property
- Incidents of sexual assault
Is Your Child Being Denied Special Education Services?
At Woodsmall Law Group, we serve children with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any concerns about the services your child is receiving, or if you have been denied access to their records, please call our Los Angeles special ed lawyers at (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.
Only remedy is through DOE enforcement, you can fill out a complaint, DOE has never imposed a financial penalty within 180 days of incident or 180 of when you became aware