Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
School records created by a public or private school or school district can be mysterious. Many parents never see their child’s full student record or think about what may be lurking in them. One way to end the mystery is to make a written request for all education records related to a student.
School Records Must Be Provided On Request
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 student records. This right transfers to a student when they turn 18.
Section 49069.7 states:
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 a public or private school maintains.
This may include records used to discipline a student.
Only “Maintained” Student Records Are Obtainable
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 for Copies of Student Records
Schools can charge a per page copy fee for any records provided, but cannot charge for the time of the staff gathering the records.
Periodic Student Records Checks
Parents may want to request their child’s student records periodically, to see what may be lurking. Requests for records may quote any relevant board policy or Education Code §49069.7.
Provision of Student Records Within Five Business Days
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 inappropriate. Sadly, however, I have seen some parents shocked at just what was contained in student files, and thereafter needing to pursue a formal request for a records correction.
Student attorney Michelle Ball helps parents and students obtain copies of records, file complaints, fight school discipline and expulsion, and handle other student problems. As an education lawyer in Sacramento California, she can help parents throughout the state in places such as the Bay Area, Napa, Salinas, Roseville, Clovis, Bakersfield, Stockton, Oroville, and many other cities.