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Correcting and Removing Concerning Content from a School Record

Correcting and Removing Concerning Content from a School Record

I have received phone calls from concerned parents who wants to have a school remove something from their student’s record. The caller may be worried the school record might cause a student to lose out on a scholarship or some other potential benefit. It may be something embarrassing, or it may be a description of a behavior problem resulting in discipline.

What follows was copied directly from the US Department of Education site.

This Federal law requires schools which receive Federal funding to provide parents and students with access to school records, but does not require the school to provide copies unless access only would be far too difficult. An example might be if the student or parents lived thousands of miles from the school that has possession of the records.

The act also gives parents and students the right to request that the school correct records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school refuses to make the requested correction the parent or student has a right to a formal hearing.

If after the hearing the school still refuses to correct or amend the record in the manner requested, the parent or student has the right to place a statement in the record which describes their position.

If the school insists on leaving the record unchanged FERPA doesn’t provide a mechanism for removing the record in question. It does allow for the student’s explanation of the situation to be included in the record, but only after a request and a formal hearing.

The advisability of putting an explanation in the record must be considered in the context of the specific record at issue.

FERPA requires that the school refuse a request to change or delete the information and that it continue to refuse to remove the objected to information after participating in a formal hearing on the portion of the record at issue. FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – 20 USC 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

Parents or eligible students have the right to request a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school will not amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

FERPA limits the organizations which can obtain educational records without written permission from the student or parent. In general the school can disclose educational records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

For additional information, you may call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (voice). Individuals who use TDD may use the Federal Relay Service.
Or you may contact us at the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520

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