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The GAP Attorneys Blog

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Posts Tagged ‘educational records’

FERPA only requires access to records, not copies

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Letter to Anonymous, 113 LRP 35720 (FPCO 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) reiterated its position that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) only requires school districts to provide parents with the ability to inspect and review their student’s educational records.  FERPA does not require school districts to provide copies of educational records, except where failing to provide copies would “effectively prevent the parent from obtaining access to the records.”  Since the parent here was within commuting distance of the school, the FPCO determined that such parent was not entitled to copies.

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Hearing records remain confidential, despite parent’s election of an open hearing.

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Oakstone Community School v. Williams, 58 IDELR 256 (S.D. Ohio 2012):  A federal district court ordered that the transcript, hearing exhibits, and first page of an IHO decision (following an impartial hearing) be sealed at the parent’s request.  The parent had exercised her right to an open hearing, and members of the public attended (including an individual who attempted to videotape the proceedings).  In light of the open hearing, the school sought to have the hearing records (including transcript and exhibits) kept from being held under seal in the federal court action.  The Court held for the parent, noting that, while the parent opted for an open hearing, the duty of confidentiality flowed to the student and the open hearing did not diminish the student’s privacy interests.  Accordingly, since exercising the right to an open hearing does not waive confidentiality provisions of FERPA and IDEA, the records were sealed to preserve their confidentiality.

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E-mails are not considered “educational records” under IDEA and FERPA unless they are maintained as part of the student’s permanent file.

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

S.A. v. Tulare County Office of Education, 53 IDELR 111 (E.D. Cal. 2009): A federal district court rejected a claim by the parents of an autistic student that any and all e-mails, wherever kept by the school district, were “educational records.”

Noting the “fleeting nature” of e-mails (since “an e-mail may be sent, received, read, and deleted within moments”), the Court said that the idea that a parent or student could demand every e-mail that identifies a student, including those kept in individual inboxes or a retrievable electronic database, was “fanciful.”  Instead, the Court decided that, in order to become an “educational record” in accordance with FERPA and IDEA, the school district needs to print the e-mail and “maintain” a copy of the e-mail in the student’s permanent file (or, possibly, a secure electronic database; however the Court explicitly withheld judgment on that possibility).

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