Arizona Privacy of School Records Laws
The privacy of a student's school records is a matter of some debate among teachers, parents, and school administrators. For example, many teachers believe that certain critical evaluations meant to be shared internally between colleagues (such as "warnings" to other teachers about behavior problems) may cause issues if accessed by parents. In Arizona, school records are not open to public inspection and communications with counselors are considered privileged. The state does, however, allow parents and students over the age of eighteen to obtain school records upon request. Below is a chart and discussion of laws regarding the privacy of school records in Arizona.
|Who Has Access to School Records?||Governed by FERPA; Department of Juvenile Corrections has access to any pupil referred.|
|Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws||Injunctive or special relief by Superior Court|
Code Section 15-141
The Arizona law that governs access to school records is Arizona Revised Statues section 15-141. That code section incorporates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is a federal law that dictates when school records may be released.
Access to School Records
Each year, schools must notify parents and students of their rights under FERPA. FERPA provides parents and students over the age of eighteen with the following rights:
- The right to review and inspect records maintained by an educational institution (copies of the records may be made available for a fee if it is unreasonable for individuals to review the records in person);
- The right to request incorrect or misleading information be fixed. If the institution refuses to change the information, parents or qualified students may have other remedies, including requesting a hearing; and
- The right to give written permission before school records are disclosed to another party.
There are certain exceptions to the written approval requirement, including releasing information for the following reasons:
- The student is transferring to another school;
- Financial institutions require the information in connection with financial aid;
- A court has issued an order or subpoena requesting the information;
- The disclosure is necessary to assist with a medical or safety emergency; or
- Arizona law requires the information be provided to state and local authorities (example: a student has ben admitted to a juvenile detention facility).
Additionally, schools may release “directory” information about a student (name, contact information, birthday, etc.) without express approval. Parents and students must still be given the opportunity to ask that such information not be provided to the requestor.
Penalties for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws
If an educational institution fails to follow FERPA, the following penalties may apply:
- The Secretary of Education withholding federal funds;
- Injunctions (a court order to perform a certain action or stop performing a particular activity); and
- Other special relief as determined appropriate by a judge.
For additional research, check out this article with background information on school records privacy and FindLaw’s section on School Privacy. If you have specific questions about the rights of your child as a student, or your rights as a parent, you may consider speaking with an experienced education attorney.
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