Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
School records created by a high school, elementary school, private school, or school district, can loom as an unknown for many parents. Parents often don’t even think about what may be in these files. One way to debunk the mystery of what is being documented on your child is to make a written request for the education records.
Per California Education Code Section 49069.7 (previously 49069, but renumbered as of 1/1/2020), a parent has an absolute right to access their child’s records. This right transfers to a student when they turn 18.
Section 49069.7 states as follows:
Parents of currently enrolled or former pupils have an absolute right to access to any and all pupil records related to their children that are maintained by school districts or private schools. The editing or withholding of any of those records, except as provided for in this chapter, is prohibited.
What this means is that parents of students of all school levels may review, inspect, and request copies of records concerning their children which the school maintains. The definition of “maintains” is a term of art, but it roughly means documents the school must or does keep, which are not personal notes [see also 34 Code of Federal Regulations section 99.3]. Access or copies of the records must be provided within 5 business days of any valid request.
This code also directs districts to develop procedures for parents to obtain student records which should be outlined in school board policies.
Schools can charge a per page copy fee for any records provided, but cannot charge for the time of the staff gathering the records.
Parents may want to request their child’s records in writing periodically, quoting any relevant board policy or Education Code §49069.7.
Access to records at public schools should be provided within 5 business days. Private school timelines are not clearly outlined in section 49069.7, but the records still must be provided timely
You never know what may be in your child’s school records. Most families will not find anything untoward. Sadly, however, I have seen some parents shocked at just what was contained in their child’s files, and thereafter needing to pursue a records correction.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.