Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Michelle Ball
Complaints are accepted by SPPO from across the country regarding public and private schools which breach students’ records rights. Due to jurisdiction being limited to schools accepting federal funds, usually private schools at the elementary and secondary levels are not subject to FERPA.
Per the USDOE website and the “FERPA General Guidance for Parents,” some of the breaches which SPPO investigates include:
1) Failure of a school to allow inspection and review of student records by a student and/or his/her parents/representatives.
2) Failure of a school to provide a process to challenge the factual contents of records (opinions, grades or “substantive decisions” are not subject to challenge).
3) Wrongful disclosure of information from confidential records (unless the person learned of the information some other way, had an “official role” in making a decision leading to the protected record, or the school official receiving the information has a “legitimate educational interest”).
4) Issues involving student/parent permission to disclose/not disclose records.
If you would like more information on the whole process please visit the SPPO information page.
Be advised that SPPO complaints are not always the fastest way to go (a recent one I am aware of is still ongoing at nine months). If you need to get a matter solved more quickly, involving an attorney is always an option. I have been involved many times when parents could not get their children’s records released or a college would not turn over copies. I am always baffled when schools blatantly ignore FERPA and other laws which clearly apply to them.
So, if your requests for records have been denied, a teacher is spreading confidential information from records (e.g. special education or discipline information) around to improper people, or the school will not provide a process for you to challenge the factual contents of student records, a complaint lodged with SPPO may be warranted.
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.