Why it is Important to Obtain Your Child’s School Records
Do you know your child’s education history?
I mean do you really know?
Besides, what grades they averaged or the teachers they’ve had over the years?
I bet your child’s school knows. They know your child’s grades history. Their discipline history. Formal and informal assessment results. They may even have sample work. The school keeps a lot of information regarding your child, especially if they receive special education services.
Parents Rights to Child’s School Records
But don’t worry. They’re not doing this to stalk your child or anything weird like that.
In fact, statutes such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require any school receiving federal funds to comply with their regulations for you and your child’s protection. These regulations include:
• Adopt an education records policy and implement procedures that meet the standards of FERPA 99.6.
• Annually notify parents and students in attendance of their rights pertaining to student records according to FERPA 99.7.
• Maintain a permanent file on each student.
• Maintain special education records.
• Provide public notice of directory information and provide parents an opportunity to refuse to disclose such information.
• Provide annual training to school staff on records and confidentiality.
Now as a parent, you get access to all the files the school has regarding your child. And you should access the file and keep a copy of the file for your records. It’s really simple to gain access to your child’s educational files, all you have to do is ask.
Why it is Important to Know What’s in Your Child’s Educational Records
But why would you want to access the file or even keep a copy for your records?
Well…your child’s files are what drives the schools decisions for your child’s education. The information in the file can be used to help support “why” or “why not” your student is receiving or not receiving certain services and/or accommodations. So it is really important you review the files and make sure they are accurate and have all the information.
Keeping Your Own Records
If you don’t have a copy of your child’s educational file here’s what you should do next:
Start building your own educational records file.
- Get a 3” binder
- Request a copy of their student records. Warning: If you have a good relationship with your school you may want to forgo requesting past records as the school can view this as contentious and turn the relationship chilly quick.
- Keep your file updated with everything school related…from letters written to and from the school to assessments and IEPs.
As your file grows (and it will) Consider keeping a bankers box or space in your file cabinet for older records and only keep the current years records in your binder.
Now that you know why it’s important to review and access your child’s file. More importantly, when you keep a copy of your child’s file and take an active role in maintaining it and the accuracy of the school files you take back control of your child’s education.
Below are some common questions parents have regarding their student’s records;
1. Question: What type of records are parents allowed to review?
Answer: FERPA allows all records, files, documents, and any materials that contain information relating directly to a student and are maintained by the school district. Reference 41 CFR 99.3
2. Question: Can students see all of their records?
Answer: No. While FERPA allows students to see their own records once they turn 18, they do not have access to all of their records. Some records that can be withheld:
(a) Psychiatric or “treatment” records. However, students can have a doctor review the records on their behalf.
(b) Records pertaining to their parents financials. Reference 41 CFR 99.12
3. Question: How long does the school have to provide the records?
Answer: Under FERPA, the school has 45 calendar days to comply with a parents’ request. However, some schools have shorter timelines. The school must comply with the shorter time period. Check with your school for their policies regarding timelines for producing records. Reference 41 CFR 99.11
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4. Question: Can parents allow someone else, such as a friend or an advocate, to view the records with them or on their behalf?
Answer: Yes. While FERPA does not address this specifically, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state parents may authorize others to view their child’s records. Most likely the school will require the parent or guardian to complete an “Exchange of Information” form. Reference 34 CFR 300.562
5. Question: Is there anything I can do if the information in the records are wrong or inaccurate?
Answer: First, parents may request that any incorrect or inaccurate information removed from the school records. If the school does not remove the requested information, the parent or guardian can request a school hearing to state their case of why the information should be removed. The hearing request should be put in writing and sent to the appropriate school official. If after the hearing the school still does not remove the information in question, the parent or guardian can request the school insert a written statement into the schools file, explaining the reasons why they believe the school records are inaccurate. Reference 34 CFR 300.564, 34 CFR 300.567, 34 CFR 300.568, 34 CFR 300.569, 41 CFR 99.20, 41 CFR 99.21, 34 CFR 99.22
6. Question: Are parents entitled to review their child’s assessments?
Answer: Parents have the right to view any and all educational school records directly relating to their child. The school must provide access to the records within a reasonable amount of time. Reference 34 CFR 300.562(a)
Keeping current and accurate records is really important for the path of your child’s education. It’s the driving force behind the schools decisions for your child’s education…shouldn’t you have unfiltered access to those same records so you can make informed decisions on the direction of your child’s education? It will be a valuable resource if you ever disagree with the direction the school want’s to go with the services or accommodations your child needs.
Thank you for taking time to read my article. I hope it was helpful.
SPEDSA – Special Education Services and Advocacy
Founder and Advocate
P.S. Need more help? Have questions about your child’s education you can’t seem to find the answers to on my blog or the internet? Click Here to schedule a FREE 30 minute call to discuss your situation and help to find the answers to your questions.