Family and Student Rights
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students”. For additional information regarding FERPA see the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The Western Heights School District and Board of Education support the privacy rights of students regarding educational records. It is the policy of the board to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Therefore, the Western Heights Public School District will ensure that the parent(s) or eligible student has the following rights:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the School receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the school principal (or appropriate school official) a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The school official will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Parents or eligible students may ask the school to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the school principal (or appropriate official), clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the school will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the District as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the School Board; a person or company with whom the District has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, evaluator, medical consultant, or therapist); a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or a person who is assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the School/District may also disclose education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the School/District to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202-5901
- The right to obtain a copy of the District’s complete FERPA policy,
- The District ensures that all parents who have a primary language other than English shall be afforded written notices and oral communication translated in a manner where the parent(s) understands the communication. This may be provided by an interpreter or other means necessary.
The office of the Superintendent shall maintain the official FERPA policy. A student’s parents or eligible student should contact the Superintendent’s office for further information on how to obtain a personal copy of this lengthy policy. To carry out their responsibilities, school officials will have access to student education records for legitimate educational purposes. The Western Heights School District will use the following criteria to determine who are “school officials.”
A school official is:
- A person certified by the state and appointed by the school board to an administrative or supervisory position;
- A person certified by the state and under contract to the school board as an instructor.
- A person employed by or under contract to the school board to perform a special task such as a secretary, a clerk, the school board attorney or auditor for the period of his or her performance as an employee or contractor; or
- A person duly elected to the school board, when review of the student’s records is pertinent to a pending board decision.
FERPA requires that our District, with certain exceptions, obtain parent written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from a child’s education records. However, the District may disclose appropriately designated “Directory Information” without written consent, unless the parent has advised the District to the contrary in accordance with District procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the District to include this type of information from a child’s education records in certain school publications. Examples include: A playbill, showing your student’s role in a drama production; the annual yearbook; honor roll or other award/recognition lists; graduation programs; and sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members.
Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent’s prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, two federal laws require school districts receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with three directory information categories – names, addresses and telephone listings – unless parents have advised the District that they do not want their student’s information disclosed without their prior written consent.
If you do not want our District to disclose directory information from your child’s education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by October 1 or, if enrolling after October 1, within ten days following the date of enrollment. Western Heights has designated the following information as directory information:
- Student’s name, including listings in playbills or programs
- Grade level
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Weight and height if a member of athletic team(s)
- Photographs (such as those in yearbooks) or film footage taken at school or school-related events.
PROTECTION OF PUPIL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
PPRA affords parents certain rights regarding our conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams; and the collection, disclosure and use of personal information for marketing purposes. These include the right to:
- Consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following protected areas (“protected information survey”) if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a program of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) –
- Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent;
- Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
- Sex behavior or attitudes;
- Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
- Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
- Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
- Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or parents; or
- Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligib
- Receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of –
- Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
- Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school or its agent, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under State law; and
- Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information obtained from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to
- Inspect, upon request and before administration or use –
- Protected information surveys of students;
- Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes; and
- Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum.
These rights transfer from the parents to a student who is 18 years old or an emancipated minor under State law.
The Western Heights School District has developed and adopted policies, in consultation with parents, regarding these rights, as well as arrangements to protect student privacy in the administration of protected information surveys and the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes. The District will directly notify parents of these policies at least annually at the start of each school year and after any substantive changes. Western Heights will also directly notify, such as through U.S. Mail or email, parents of students who are scheduled to participate in the specific activities or surveys noted below* and will provide an opportunity for the parent to opt his or her child out of participation of the specific activity or survey. The District will make this notification to parents at the beginning of the school year if the District has identified the specific or approximate dates of the activities or surveys at that time. For surveys and activities scheduled after the school year starts, parents will be provided reasonable notification of the planned activities and surveys listed below* and be provided an opportunity to opt their child out of such activities and surveys. Parents will also be provided an opportunity to review any pertinent surveys. Following is a list of the specific activities and surveys covered under this requirement:
- Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales or other distribution.
- Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by ED.
- Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening as described above.
*At the present time, the Western Heights School District does not plan to administer any protected information surveys nor collect/disclose/use personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes as described in the PPRA. Should this change at any time during the course of the current school year, the District will provide adequate notice to parents with the opportunity to opt out in accordance with the PPRA.
The office of the Superintendent shall maintain the official PPRA policy. A student’s parents or eligible student should contact the Superintendent’s office for further information on how to obtain a copy of this lengthy policy.
Parents who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202-5901
For additional information regarding PPRA click the link; PPRA.