The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the confidentiality of your child’s school records and your right to access those records. The IDEA and its regulations also provide parental rights associated with access to student records.
Under these laws, a school or State educational agency must provide a parent with the opportunity to inspect and review their child’s education records within a reasonable period of time, but no more than 45 calendar days following receipt of the request. There are special circumstances where this timeline may be shortened, but there are no circumstances that extend this deadline.
What School Records Can you Request?
“Education records” are records that are directly related to your child and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution. These records include but are not limited to grades, transcripts, attendance records, student course schedules, health records, student discipline files, and special education records.
How to Request Your Child’s Records:
If you have a good relationship with your school and are requesting records for non-litigious reasons, we suggest adopting an informal approach to requesting records. If there is a specific document you need, simply request a copy of that document from your usual contacts at your child’s school, such as your child’s case manager, classroom teacher, or the school secretary. Requesting specific documents from trusted staff and avoiding the legalese included in more formal FERPA requests can expedite your receipt of records.
Even with an informal request, it is best practice to make the request in writing. An email request provides a time-stamped record of your request when a phone call does not. If you choose to make an initial request via a phone call, send a confirmation email after your call that summarizes what you discussed.
If you do not have a good relationship with your school or are requesting records due to a dispute or because you’re contemplating filing a special education complaint, it may be better to provide a more formal and detailed request.
There is no specific form or method you must use to request education records for your child. However, be sure to check your school’s website to see whether they have a specific procedure laid out for records requests. Schools will often designate an administrator as their “FERPA Officer” to whom all requests should be directed. Not following your school’s FERPA request procedure may delay your receipt of the records.
If your school or agency does not specify a FERPA point of contact, we suggest you provide the request to either your school’s Director of Special Education, Director of Pupil Services, the Superintendent/CEO, or other school staff member that you trust.
When in doubt, you may use the below email or letter template to request records for your child. If there are particular records that you are interested in, be sure to specifically include them in your request.
Subject: FERPA Records Request
Dear [FERPA Contact],
I am requesting a copy of all of [Child’s Name] educational records. I understand I am entitled to these records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
This request includes, but is not limited to, the following items:
- Permanent Records such as: [Student’s] identifying information, [Parent’s] name and address, academic transcripts/test scores, attendance records, accident and health records, honors and rewards received, participation in school-sponsored activities
- Temporary Records such as: disciplinary information, class schedule, test scores, family background information, teacher, anecdotal information, veriﬁed reports from non-school persons or agencies
- Special education records including all IEPs and Evaluation Reports
- Speech and Language, Physical, or Occupational Therapy Reports/Evaluation
- Social work reports/assessments
- Psychological evaluations and source data
- Progress reports and source date
- Special education ﬁles including reports of multidisciplinary stafﬁngs
- Health history
- Veriﬁed reports from non-school persons or agencies which were part of special education decisions
- All email correspondence related to [Student]
Please contact me should you need additional information.