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F:  A private school student has an IEP with the LEA. The IEP package contains medical documents. The parent gave the full package to the private school’s administration. The school then refused to give a teacher to whom the IEP is relevant access to the IEP, on grounds that it violates the child’s medical privacy. Can the private school’s administration legally withhold the IEP from the teacher?

  1. Regarding the IEP, specifically… according to IDEA, a student’s IEP must be accessible to every teacher/staff who is responsible for its implementation. This is different from having access to the student’s entire student record, and may be a more appropriate “level” of access for some teachers.

    IDEA applies to public schools, as well as private schools when a student has been placed there by the LEA. It may also apply to all private schools in states where eligible students receive an IEP instead of a services plan.

    If the private school is covered by FERPA and IDEA, this hopefully answers your question! If the school is not covered, perhaps use this information as guidance when discussing the issue with administration.

  2. If the teacher doesn’t have access to the IEP, it certainly defeats the purpose of the school having the copy!

    Was the student placed at the private school by the LEA, or is this a parental placement? Is this a private special education school, non-religious school, or parochial school? It’s hard to answer your question without knowing more, but here’s a few thoughts…

    Regarding the idea of medical privacy… most medical info maintained by a primary/secondary school is considered part of a student’s educational record. So student’s right to “medical privacy” in a school environment would fall within their right to educational privacy.

    FERPA is the federal law that protects the privacy of information within the student’s record.

  3. FERPA does allow school staff with a “legitimate educational interest” to access private student information.

    For many students with IEPs, their health status is significantly intertwined with their education. Schools may possess a lot of health information about these students, and it’s reasonable to presume that some school staff will have a legitimate interest to access this information.

    FERPA applies to any school that receives funding (directly or indirectly) from the federal Dept of Education. Although FERPA does not provide a teacher with an affirmative right to access student information, it does provide a clear legal pathway for the teacher to do so.

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