Disclosure of Student Records

ShaRae Walker, Public Records Request Form, 2011

ShaRae Walker, Public Records Request Form, 2011

A student file is compiled as soon as a child enters preschool. Basic information such as the student’s name, date of birth, address, and social security number are collected about them. This file also contains critical information such as any comments a teacher or staff member may notate, photos, grades, health records, and attendance chart. Some of the information may be favorable or not so favorable and depending upon the circumstances may adversely affect the child’s future.

Student records are a history of the student and they paint a picture in the mind of those who read them. It is essential for parents to be knowledgeable about the laws and policies that govern student information and the content of their child’s file. An Ohio mother of two learned the hard way. According to CNN, Kelley Williams-Bolar was jailed after interfering with her children’s records.  Kelley “Illegally” enrolled her two daughters at her father’s suburban Copley Township address.  Kelley resided in a government-subsidized home in the Akron district and according to the report this area was not safe for her two girls to attend school.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act  (FERPA) education records consist of information directly related to a student. The data is maintained by an educational agency or institution and not only contains information about the student, but also about the parents and family members. In the Williams-Bolar case, Kelley Williams had two addresses listed on her children’s documents. She considered her father’s residence one of her homes.

“My primary residence was both places. I stayed at both places.” She said, in an interview at the Summit County Jail.

Not only are schools permitted to access student files, but FERPA grants parents the right to know what their children’s files contain as well. Shalicia Jordan, an Arizona resident and parent to twins, recently enrolled her two daughters into preschool. “I never really thought about how my children’s personal information could affect them in the future. And what if a teacher just doesn’t like my child and writes something negative about her?” She stated. “I didn’t know that I could request their file and I don’t recall it stating this on the student enrollment. What happens if I don’t like a comment a teacher made? Can I have it removed?”

ShaRae Walker, Student Report Card with Parent's information, 2011

ShaRae Walker, Student Report Card with Parent's information, 2011

The FERPA regulation states that parents may request and must be provided with a list of the type of information stored and who to contact to retrieve them for review. Every parent should know about their child’s file and what’s in it. Some states have established, “procedural guidelines” which allow them to not release student records until certain criteria such as financial obligations have been met.

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