Data Privacy and Confidentiality

Parents are often concerned about their child's educational records.  Common questions include:  What will  happen to records?  Where will they be stored?  Who will have access to them?  Who can read private information in the records?  How will evaluation information be used?

Record keeping in schools is guided by data privacy laws, copyright laws, federal anti-discrimination and education laws, professional organizations' ethical standards (e.g., the American Psychological Association, the National Association for School Psychologists) and the local policies and practices.  The laws that speak most directly to the protection of pupil information are the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 1997).

Information that is considered public, or "directory," information is available on request for whoever requests it.  This includes information such as name, address, date of birth, school of attendance, and other such general information.  Parents can deny the release of this information. 

Information that is not considered "directory information" is called "private data."  This includes grades, report cards, test scores, health records, attendance patterns, and behavior records and notes.  Private data records are maintained in a secure location.  For example, special education files are kept in a locked file cabinet and in a separate room from children's cumulative academic records.  Health files are maintained in the health offices, and psychologists' files are kept securely.  Private data are only available to school staff who have a legitimate educational interest in knowing the information (i.e., need the information to do their job).  Third parties can access private data only with the written release of the parents or guardians.

Private data will only be discussed with those educational staff members who have a need to know the information.  Depending on the situation, such staff members may include classroom teachers, specialist teachers, playground monitors, lunchroom monitors, administrators, and building-level interventionists.  

For more detailed information about your child's educational records, talk to your child's classroom teacher, special education teacher, or the building's school psychologist.