Do you have a right to this information?
Yes. The Federal Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) grants parents the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of their child's educational records.
What are educational records?
FERPA defines "educational records" as records that are: 1) directly related to a student and 2) maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. 34 CFR 99.3. Education records may be recorded in any manner, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, or microfiche. Id.
So what does that mean? Your child's educational records might not just be in one school file. Email correspondences about your child might be stored on the school's server. Handwritten IEP meeting notes might be in a teacher's notebook. Phone logs might be kept in the secretary's office.
How long does the school have to respond?
Districts must respond in a "reasonable" time, but in no more than 45 days. What is reasonable depends on the nature, amount, and the location of the records you are requesting.
Can the school charge me for copies?
Yes. The school can charge a reasonable rate for copies, as long as that fee doesn't effectively preclude a parent from accessing the records. The school cannot charge for the cost of retrieval. It's always a good idea to ask what the fee is for copies and approximately how many copies will be made, before the school sends you the bill.
Learn more about FERPA rights here.
If you need help requesting your child's educational records, contact Boston area attorney Lillian E. Wong today.