Educational Records: ARE EMAILS UNDER FERPA/IDEA OR PUBLIC RECORDS?

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Jessica:  Parents requested all student records and emails pertaining to their child with an IEP. The school responded that they spoke with their lawyer who said the emails don’t fall under FERPA or IDEA student records, but could be received under a public records request. The problem with this designation is the school is under no obligation to waive the fee for copying and have a proposed bill amounting to nearly $1/page for all the “actual costs” of copying the over 1,700 emails. Short of hiring an attorney, what protections do the parents have in getting access to the communication concerning their child? The intent of IDEA was to safeguard parent rights and it seems classifying the exact same request under a different law effectively prevents these protections. My understanding is this topic isn’t firmly established, and it was a decision in CA that other schools have based this move off of. How can parents get around this cost obstacle?

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MotherWarrior

So, how do I know if the school has supplied me with ALL email exchanges between staff (teachers/administrators/staff) related to my student? Who pulls the emails and how do I ensure they have searched the database completely?

Chuck

There is no sure way to know that they did. You can ask in writing if they checked with anyone who did or may have dealt with your child. If they do not respond in writing, respond in writing to them with what they told you verbally. If you ever learn that some email was not given to you, the paper trail could be helpful.

Kim

My child has been neglected by the school system on several accounts. He was locked in a closet for behavior management, locked out of the classroom and did not receive his accommodations that were due him from his I.E.P and Behavior Plan. His behavior specialist admitted neglect on yesterday. I need help.

Marcus

Kim,
I would file a state complaint immediatley. Make sure you have documented all of the neglect your child has faced.

Chuck

I suggest contacting your state parent training and information center. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

Sharon L.

The school can charge for copies but according to the law it must be a “reasonable charge” whatever that is. Our school let me go in and review the records and then I picked the exact one’s I wanted so I would not have to just “get them all” and that lowered the cost. They also had a cost of so many for a fee and then after a certain amount it was slightly less per page but yes it cost us some money to get the records. The school is within their right to do that.

Christine

If it were me, I would ask to view the e-mails first, so you can decide which ones to request copies of.

Jessica

That’s a great idea; however, parents were told some emails contain other students and that information would have to be redacted. Ideas on how to get around this?