educational rights for school ? The appearance of records attack the school funding?
September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
There are standard letters to ask for available on web ?HERE IS AN EXAMPLE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES POSTED BELOW….
(Chapter 5 Section 3 from Guidebook of Laws and Programs for People with Disabilities)
What Is It? FERPA is a federal law that applies to any school receiving federal funds. The Illinois School Student Records Act is an Illinois law that applies to all Illinois public schools. They both give parents and students privacy and other rights with respect to education records. Schools and other educational institutions must maintain records in a way that complies with the law.
What Is Its Purpose? To make sure that students and parents have access to educational records while protecting the privacy of such records. To control careless release of educational information on the part of many institutions. To prevent the disclosure of school records without consent.
Who Can Benefit? FERPA benefits parents and eligible students who have educational records with schools that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education. The Illinois School Student Records Act benefits all parents of students and students attending Illinois public schools.
The Federal law: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Educational Agencies Covered by FERPA:
FERPA applies to all schools and institutions funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Act applies to all federally funded elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools and institutions, as long as the institution provides:
- Educational services or instruction to students; or
- Administrative services, direction, or control of schools.
Example: A state university, because it is a recipient of federal funds, must comply with FERPA.
A “parent” means a parent of a student. It includes a natural parent, a guardian, or a person acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.
An “eligible student” means a student who has reached age 18 or is attending an institution of post-secondary education.
When a student becomes an “eligible student,” the rights given to parents under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student. At that point, parents have no rights under FERPA.
Annual Notice to Parents or Eligible Students
Every year, the school must send a notice to parents and to eligible students informing them about their rights. The notice must inform them that they have the following rights:
- To inspect and review the student’s education records;
- To seek amendment of those records that are believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights;
- To consent to any disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the records, except where FERPA allows disclosure without consent;
- To file a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Education for violations of FERPA.
In addition, the notice must explain the procedure for inspecting and reviewing records, or for requesting any amendments.
The school is required to make sure its notices are effective when they are being sent to persons with a disability.
Note: A student who has a disability also has rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to inspect education records, to get copies of the records, and to amend the records. See the section in this Chapter titled “Special Education and Related Services.“
In general, a parent or eligible student has the right to inspect and review the student’s “education records.” The school must respond to your request within a reasonable time, but not more than 45 days after you make the request.
An “education record” means any recorded information that is directly related to a student and which is maintained by an educational agency or institution. This can include information in any of the following forms: handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, or microfiche.
Example: A mother was entitled to inspect school records relating to student’s juvenile court proceedings, because they were “education records” bearing on the student’s educational and residential placement.
The school must respond to any reasonable request that you make for explanations and interpretations of the records.
If circumstances prevent you from inspecting the records, the school must give you a copy of the requested records, or make other arrangements to allow you an opportunity to review them.
You do not have the right to see the following records:
- The personal notes or records of teachers, supervisors, or administrators;
- Records of the agency’s law enforcement unit; or
- The employment records of school personnel.
The school is not required to give access to medical or psychological treatment records of students age 18 or over or who attend school at the post-secondary level. The student may have those records reviewed by a doctor, psychologist, or other appropriate professional.
If you want the school to make a copy of a record for you, it can charge a fee for the copy. It cannot charge you if you do not have the money to pay for it.
Sometimes, the education records of a student contain information on more than one student. You are not allowed to inspect and review information about other students.
Post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and universities, do not have to let a student inspect financial records.
You can ask the school to amend an educational record if it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights.
The school must decide whether to amend the record as requested within a reasonable time after it receives the request. If it decides not to amend the record as you requested, it must inform you of its decision and of your right to a hearing to challenge the content of the records. You have the right to such a hearing on request.
After a hearing, if the school finds that a record is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of a student’s privacy rights, it must amend the record accordingly and inform you of the amendment in writing.
After a hearing, if the school decides there is no reason to amend, it must inform you of your right to place a statement in the record, meaning that you can comment on the contested information in the record or state why you disagree with the decision of the school. Your statement must be kept as part of the record for as long as the record is maintained. If the record is ever disclosed, your statement must be disclosed with it.
In general, a school cannot disclose to others any personally identifiable information from the student’s records, without a signed and dated “written consent” from the parent or eligible student.
Personally identifiable information includes:
- the student’s name;
- the name of the student’s parents or other family members;
- the address of the student or family;
- the student’s social security number, student number or other personal identifier; and
- personal characteristics or any other information that would make the student’s identity easily traceable.
The written consent must specify the records that may be disclosed and state the purpose of the disclosure. The consent also must identify those parties to whom the disclosure may be made.
You can ask the school to provide you with a copy of the records disclosed, and the school must provide a copy to you.
Separate Records of Requests for Records and Separate Records of Disclosures
When a school receives a request for educational records, it must keep a record of that request. Also, when a school discloses personally identifiable information from an education record, the school must keep a record of that disclosure. These records have to include the names of the parties who have requested or received information. They also have to state the reasons the parties had to request or obtain the information. You have the right to inspect these records.
Note: These records are not necessary when the request was from (or the disclosure was to) the parent or eligible student or to an official of the school.
No consent is required where the disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution, who have a legitimate interest in the information.
Note: There are about 13 different kinds of situations where no consent is required before disclosure.
An educational agency or institution is allowed to disclose personally identifiable information from an education record only on the condition that the recipient will not disclose the information to any other party without the prior written consent of the parent or eligible student.
- Disclosure to Other Schools
A school can make a disclosure of personal information without your consent when the disclosure is being made to another school, school system or educational institution where the student has enrolled or is trying to enroll. When such a disclosure is made, the school must make a reasonable attempt to notify you. Also, on request, they must give you a copy of the record that was disclosed.
- Disclosure of Personal Information to Federal or State Agencies
Schools can disclose personal information, without your written consent, if the disclosure is to certain federal or state agencies. These officials can have access to the student’s records in order to audit or evaluate the school, and to make sure the school is in compliance with the law.
Examples: Such disclosures might be to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General or Department of Education, or the Illinois Board of Education or the local school district office.
- Disclosure of Personal Information in a Health or Safety Emergency
No written consent is required when the school discloses personal information in a health or safety emergency. The disclosure must be necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others. Education records can include appropriate information about disciplinary action taken against the student for conduct that poses a risk to the safety or well-being of the student or others.
- Disclosing “Directory Information”
Under certain conditions, a school can disclose what is called “directory information” without your written consent. Directory information means information in an educational record which would not usually be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
Examples: The student’s name, address, telephone, date of birth, major field of study, school activities, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received.
Before it can disclose this kind of information, a school must give public notice accessible to parents and eligible students. This notice must explain the type of information it considers to be “directory information.” The notice also must explain your right to refuse to let the school designate certain information about the student as directory information. Finally, the notice must tell you the period of time you have to exclude certain information about the student as directory information.
- Disclosure In Compliance with a Court Order or Subpoena
A school can disclose education records of a student without written consent, where the disclosure is to comply with a court order or a subpoena. However, before disclosing pursuant to court order or subpoena, the school must notify the parent or eligible student in advance. This is to give the parent or student time to seek a protective order from the court before disclosure.
The State law: The Illinois School Student Records Act
The Illinois School Student Records Act: In General
Like FERPA, the Illinois School Student Records Act (Act) is a law which provides students and their parents the right to obtain school records. It also prevents the disclosure of school records to others without your consent. The Act also provides you with the right to seek the correction of student records that you believe are inaccurate.
Each public school and school district in Illinois is required to adopt written policies and procedures explaining how the school will follow this law. In order to fully understand your rights under this law, it is very important that you ask the school to provide you with a copy of their policies.
Types of Schools That Are Covered
The Illinois Act applies to records kept by all public schools in Illinois. This includes pre-schools, elementary schools, high schools, and vocational schools. It also includes special educational schools. The Act does not apply to private schools.
Permanent and Temporary Student Records
For the purposes of the Act, there are two types of school student records:
- Student Permanent Records; and
- Student Temporary Records.
Permanent Records include the following:
- Basic identifying information, including students and parents names and addresses, birth date and place, and gender;
- Academic transcript, including grades, class rank, graduation date, grade level achieved and scores on college entrance examinations;
- Attendance record;
- Accident reports and health record;
- Records regarding the times the school has released permanent record information to others;
- Honors and awards received; and,
- Information about participation in school activities or athletics, or offices held in school-sponsored organizations.
Note: No other information can be placed in the student permanent record.
Temporary Records. These records include all information which is of clear relevance to the education of the student, but which is not required to be in the student permanent record. Information relating to any disciplinary infractions involving drugs, weapons, and bodily harm must be included in the temporary record.
The temporary record also may include:
- Family background information;
- Intelligence test scores;
- Aptitude test scores;
- Reports of psychological evaluations;
- Achievement level test results;
- Participation in extracurricular activities;
- Honors and awards received;
- Teacher anecdotal records;
- Special education files including the report of the multi-disciplinary staffing on which placement or non-placement was based, and all records and tape recordings relating to special education placement hearings and appeals; and
- Any verified reports or information from non-educational persons, agencies or organizations.
How Long Must a School Keep Student Records?
A school must keep Student Permanent Records for at least 60 years after the student has stopped attending the school. A school must keep Student Temporary Records for at least 5 years after the student has stopped attending the school.
After the five year period, certain temporary records may be transferred to the parent of a child with disabilities who received special educational services, or the student if he has reached age 18. These records include psychological evaluations, special education files and other information which may be of continued assistance to the student. The school is required to inform the student and the parent of the right to receive these records and of the future usefulness of these records.
Access to Student Records by Parents and Students:
Access to student records by the student:
If you are a student under age 18, you have the right to inspect and copy your school student permanent record. Upon reaching age 18, graduation from high school, marriage, or entry into military service, you have the right to inspect and copy both the permanent and temporary student records.
Although the Act does not require schools to do so, a school may allow students the right to inspect and copy their temporary record even though the student has not yet reached age 18, graduated from high school, married, or entered the military. You should check your school’s written policies to determine the circumstances under which the school will provide students with access to temporary records.
Access to Student Records by Parents:
If you are the natural parent, legal guardian, or other person primarily responsible for the care of a student, you have the right to inspect and copy both the permanent and temporary student records.
Upon the student’s 18th birthday, graduation from high school, marriage, or entry into military service, you no longer have the right to inspect or copy the records without the student’s written consent or a court order.
Assistance in Reviewing Records
Whether you are a student, a parent, or other authorized person, you may need help in understanding the records you are reviewing at the school. You have the right to be accompanied and assisted by a psychologist, counselor, or other person qualified to assist you in understanding the records.
If you ask, the school must let you have the services of a qualified person employed by the school for this purpose. They cannot charge you for this service. If you chose to be accompanied by someone not employed by the school, you must pay that person’s fees, if any.
Even if you would prefer not to receive help in interpreting the information contained in the school student record, the school may require you to accept these services from a qualified person employed by the school. This must be done at the school’s expense.
How Quickly Must the School Allow You to See the Records?
Upon the request of a student, parent, guardian, or authorized representative, the school must provide you with the opportunity to copy and inspect the records within 15 days.
Fees for Copying Records
A reasonable fee can be charged for the costs of copying records, not to exceed 35 cents per page. However, if you are poor, you are entitled to obtain copies at no cost.
Rights to Privacy and Disclosure:
Rights to Privacy
In general, the school is not allowed to release a student’s school records to anyone, without the written consent of the parent or legal guardian, or the consent of a student who has reached age 18. There are certain exceptions where the school can disclose records to others without consent.
Disclosure Upon Court Order
Student records may be disclosed, without your consent, to any person who has obtained a court order permitting them access to the records. Upon receiving the court order, the school must notify the parent of the terms of the order and inform the parents of the specific records that the school plans to release pursuant to the order. The school also must inform the parent of the right to seek the removal or correction of information contained in the records.
Disclosure to Others Upon Written Consent
A parent or legal guardian of a minor student may give others permission to inspect and copy a school student record. The consent must be in writing and dated. Whenever the school requests that you give consent for the disclosure of records, or whenever the school obtains your consent to release records, the school must inform you in writing of the following rights:
- To inspect and copy the records;
- To limit the consent for disclosure to only certain parts of the student record; and
- To seek the removal or correction of information in the record.
Disclosures of Records To School and Government Officials and Employees
Student records may be disclosed without the consent to any employee of the school or school district, or the State Board of Education. This is legal if the employee needs access to the information in order to meet the child’s educational needs.
In cases where the student is involved in juvenile court proceedings, the student records also may be provided without the student’s or parent’s consent to the judge, juvenile probation officers, advocates, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and agencies which have been appointed to provide educational, medical or mental health services to the child.
Disclosure of Records When the Student Changes Schools
Whenever a student transfers to a new school, the new school must obtain the permanent and temporary student records from the old school. This can be done without your consent. However, before the records are transferred to the new school, the old school must give the student’s parents or legal guardian a written notice informing them of the right to copy and inspect the records and of the right to seek the removal or correction of information in the record.
Disclosure in Emergencies
Information in student records may be released without your consent in an emergency. This can be done if the information is necessary to deal with an immediate threat to the health or safety of the student or others. When information is released without your consent, the school must notify you as soon as possible of the information released, the date of the release, the person, agency, or organization receiving the information, and the purpose of the release.
Re-disclosure of Records
In general, any person who obtains protected school student records cannot share the records or reveal their contents to any other person. This can be done, however, with the written consent of the student’s parent or guardian.
Disputing the Contents of Student Records
Parents or legal guardians of a student have the right to challenge information ontained in a school student record which they believe is incorrect or which they believe is not relevant to the student’s education.
You do not have the right to challenge records relating to the student’s grades. Also, you do not have the right to challenge references in the record to expulsions or out-of-school suspensions, if the challenge is made at the time the student’s school records are being sent to another school to which the student is transferring.
How to Know if Your Rights Have Been Violated
Under FERPA: You are a parent of a student or an eligible student, the student has education records at a school funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and:
- In any year, a school fails to send you the proper annual notice informing you about your FERPA rights.
- The school denies you the right to inspect and review the student’s education records, or fails to respond to your request to review them within a reasonable time.
- The school fails to respond to your reasonable requests for an explanation or interpretation of the records you review.
- The school charges you a fee for copies of the records although you do not have the money to pay the fee.
- The school fails to amend an educational record that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights, or fails to respond to your request for an amendment within a reasonable time.
- The school denies your request to amend, but fails to inform you of that decision or inform you of your right to a hearing, or denies you a right to a hearing.
- After a hearing, the school decides there is no reason to amend a record, but fails to let you place a statement in the record or to inform you of your right to make a statement.
- The school discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s records to others without first getting your signed and dated written consent (unless an exception applies).
- The school obtains a consent from you that fails to include the proper information.
- After a disclosure, the school fails to provide you with a copy of the records disclosed, upon your request.
- The school makes a disclosure without requiring the recipient to promise not to disclose the information to any other party without your written consent.
- The school makes a disclosure to another school where the student has enrolled without making a reasonable attempt to notify you or giving you, on request, a copy of the record that was disclosed.
- A school discloses education records to comply with a court order or subpoena without first notifying you in advance.
- A school discloses “directory information” that you have requested the school not to disclose, or without having first published the required public notice.
Under the Illinois School Student Records Act:
With regard to all Illinois public schools, your rights have been violated if:
- You give written consent for the disclosure of your records, but the school discloses more information than is allowed under the terms of the written consent.
- A person who has received your records with your consent then discloses your records to someone else without your consent.
- You are refused assistance from a qualified person supplied by the school in interpreting the contents of your records or your child’s records. You are a student under age 18 and you are denied the right to inspect and copy your own temporary records within 15 days of your request.
- You are the parent or guardian of a student under age 18 and you are denied the right to inspect and copy the permanent and temporary student records within 15 days of your request.
- Your student records are disclosed to someone without written consent, unless one of the exceptions applies.
- You are poor and your written request for a free copy of the records is denied.
- Your request for modification of inaccurate or misleading information in the records is denied.
- Your written statement about why you believe the records are inaccurate or misleading is not included in your records.
How to Protect or Enforce Your Rights
Request for a Hearing When the School Refuses to Amend an Education Record
You have the right to ask the school to amend any education record that is inaccurate or misleading or which violates the student’s privacy rights. If the school will not amend, you must submit a written request for a hearing to the school.
Your written request must identify which portion of the record you dispute and the reasons for your challenge. Within 15 days of receiving your request, the school must have an informal meeting with you to try to resolve the matter.
If the matter is not resolved, the school must schedule a formal hearing to be held within 15 days of the informal meeting. The school must give notice to the parent or eligible student of the date, time and place of the hearing. This notice must be given a reasonable amount of time before the hearing.
The hearing will be held before a hearing officer appointed by the school. The hearing officer must not work in the same school that the student attends. At the hearing, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer or other counsel, and you have the right to present evidence and call witnesses and to cross-examine the school’s witnesses. The hearing must be tape recorded or transcribed by a court reporter.
Within 10 days of the hearing, the hearing officer must make a written decision. The decision must be based only on the information presented at the hearing. The decision will do one of the following:
- Retain the challenged contents of the student record;
- Remove the challenged contents of the student record; or
- Change, clarify or add to the challenged contents of the student record.
Appeals to the Regional Superintendent
If you disagree with the hearing officer’s decision, you may file an appeal to the Regional Superintendent of Schools. This request should be in writing, and must be made no later than 20 days after the date of the hearing decision. The school has this same right to appeal if they disagree with the decision.
The Regional Superintendent will review the transcript of the hearing and the disputed student record. If the appeal involves special education records, the Regional Superintendent should seek advice from special education personnel who have expertise in the matter. The Regional Superintendent may not consult with the staff who placed the disputed information in the record. The Regional Superintendent should issue a written decision within 30 days of receiving the appeal. The school is required to comply with the Regional Superintendent’s decision.
If the disputed information in the student record is not removed, the student’s parent or guardian is entitled to submit a written statement to the school which explains why the information in the student record is wrong or misleading. Whenever the disputed part of the record is disclosed to other persons, they must also be given a copy of your written statement.
If a school violates your rights under FERPA, you can complain to the U.S. Dept. of Education. A parent or eligible student may file a written complaint t
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Dept. of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-4605
You must file your complaint within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or 180 days of the date you knew or reasonably should have known of the violation. That time limit can be extended if you show that you were prevented by circumstances beyond your control from filing the complaint on time.
The Department investigates complaints to determine whether the school has violated FERPA. Both you and the school will get a notice from the Department when it starts its investigation. The school has the opportunity to submit a written response to the complaint. The Department may require the school to submit reports to aid its investigation. You can submit further written or oral arguments or information to support your complaint.
After the investigation is over, the Department will give you and the school written notice of its findings and the basis for its findings. If the Department finds that the school has violated FERPA, the notice will include a statement of the steps that the school must take to comply, and the time period for compliance.
If the school does not comply within this period, the Department may withhold future federal funding for the school. It also can issue a “cease-and-desist” order to stop further violations of FERPA.
Private Lawsuits Against the School
You do not have a private right to sue the school directly under FERPA. If the school is a public school, you can bring a civil rights lawsuit under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. In that way, you can assert your rights under FERPA. This kind of lawsuit cannot be filed against a private institution.
You also can file a complaint in the Illinois Circuit Court against any person who has violated any provision of the Illinois School Student Records Act. You should file any such a lawsuit no later than two years after the date that the person violated the Illinois Act. The lawsuit should be filed in the county where the violation of the Act occurred.
It is strongly advised that you be represented by an attorney because of the complicated nature of these legal proceedings.
Such a lawsuit might be necessary to force a school to give you access to certain education records, or to prevent a school from disclosing personal information. The lawsuit might also enable you to recover damages for unlawful violations of your privacy. This can include compensation for emotional pain and suffering.
Your Fees and Costs
If you win a case against the school or someone for violating the Illinois School Student Records Act, the judge can order that person to pay your attorneys’ fee and other costs of the case. To get an award of attorney’s fees, you have to win your claim for either injunctive relief or damages. If you lose the case, the court will not make you pay the other person’s attorney’s fees, unless your claim was frivolous or brought in bad faith.
Criminal Penalties for Violating the Illinois School Student Records Act
It is a Class A Misdemeanor for any person to wilfully and maliciously falsify information in a student record. It is a petty criminal offense for any person to wilfully violate any provision of the Act. If you believe that any person has violated your rights under the Act, you may contact the States Attorney of the county where the violation took place, and ask that they prosecute the person.
Enforcement by the State Board of Education and the States Attorney
In addition to the right of a private individual to sue for a violation of the Illinois Act, the State Board of Education and the States Attorney of each county have the legal authority to file a lawsuit against a school to obtain an injunction to force a school to comply with the Act.
To obtain enforcement assistance through the States Attorney, you should contact the States Attorney of the county where the violation took place or where the school is located, and ask that they seek injunctive relief.
You may contact the State Board of Education at:
Chicag (312) 814-2220(v)
Springfield (217) 782-9560(v)
The State Board’s Web address is www.isbe.state.il.us.
Where To Go For More Information
Statutes and Regulations
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) can be found at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.
The federal regulations can be found at 34 C.F.R. Part 99.
The Illinois School Student Records Act can be found at 105 ILCS 10/1.
The Illinois regulations implementing the Illinois statute are at 23 Ill. Admin. Code Part 375.
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