FERPA: The Right to Review Records


FERPA is an acronym for the Federal law that establishes important safeguards to protect the privacy of school records for minors • In addition to ensuring parental access to the information schools gather about your child, the law requires that you be informed about when, where, and to whom your child’s data is disseminated

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), often called the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law enacted in 1984. It gives all parents of students under 18 years of age and all students over 18 years of age the right to see, correct, and control access to student records.

Any school that receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education must follow this law. Schools are required to establish written procedures to carry out this law and to notify parents of their rights annually.

Following is a summary of parental rights under FERPA:

  1. The right to request a list of the types and locations of education records collected, maintained, and used by the school system (see sidebar below):
  2. The right to know who has access to these records, including the names and positions of staff members.
  3. The right to inspect and review all education records pertaining to your child. If the school district maintains education records that include the names of more than one child, parents have the right to view only information pertinent to their child. Records will be made available within ten school days, or within three school days if information is needed to plan for a due process hearing or a PPT meeting.
  4. The right to have an explanation and interpretation of their child’s records.
  5. The right to acquire one free copy of their child’s special education records. A nominal fee may be charged for additional copies. This request must be honored within five school days. A request for records needed to prepare for a PPT meeting must be copied within three school days.The school district may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information, and any fee charged may not effectively deny parents their rights to inspect and review education records.
  6. The right to have an authorized representative inspect and review their child’s records.
  7. The right to request an amendment to their child’s education records, if the parents consider information to be inaccurate, misleading or in violation of privacy. A request for an amendment must be in writing and will be acted upon within a reasonable period of time.
  8. The right to a hearing, if the request to amend their child’s records is refused.
  9. The right to place a statement in their child’s records, if the hearing officer decides against amending the information as requested. This statement will be maintained as long as their child’s record is maintained and will be disclosed whenever the confidential record is disclosed.
  10. The right to be informed when the information in their child’s records is no longer useful, so they may request destruction of the information.

Educational records under FERPA are collected and maintained as follows:

Type of Data Location Length Of Maintenance
Category A – Directory Name, Address, Date of birth, Name of parent(s), Address, Telephone number, Academic work and level of achievement (grades and transcripts), Attendance data. Cumulative file 50 years after student leaves the school district
Category B – Confidential Standardized test scores and Individual Diagnostic Reading and Math test results (non-special education). Cumulative file 6 years after student leaves the school district
Category C – Confidential Health records, Evaluation reports, Referrals, All notice and consent forms, IEPs, Release forms, Diagnostic medical information, Team meeting minutes. Health and pupil personnel services files 6 years after student leaves the school district

This information is excerpted from Bringing Knowledge to the Table: How To Be An Effective Advocate for Your Child,© 2013, by SPED*NET Wilton, Special Education Network of Wilton, www.spednetwilton.org. 

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