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Hawaii Privacy of School Records Laws

Privacy of school records is a critical aspect of protecting students' rights and information. In Hawaii, laws exist to safeguard student records and ensure that sensitive information is handled in an appropriate manner. 

Understanding these laws is essential for both students and educational institutions. Let's explore Hawaii's privacy of school records laws in more detail below.

Privacy of School Records Laws Overview

Federal law governs the privacy of student education records nationwide under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA grants certain rights to eligible students and their parents or legal guardians. These rights pertain to their access to and disclosure of student records. 

Under FERPA, personally identifiable information (PII) from student records cannot be disclosed. It cannot be given without written consent. These records include grades, transcripts, disciplinary records, and any other information. This information is related to the student's education program.

There are certain exceptions outlined by the law. Exceptions to this rule include disclosures to school officials with legitimate educational interests. They also include disclosures to certain government entities and disclosures in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order. 

FERPA also grants eligible students and their parents the right to request corrections. They can correct inaccurate or misleading information in the student's records. Educational agencies must follow through with such requests within a reasonable timeframe.

Hawaii Privacy of School Records Laws

In Hawaii, the Department of Education follows both federal and state laws to protect student records. Hawaii's laws align closely with FERPA but may include more provisions. This helps address specific state concerns. 

For example, the Hawaii Administrative Rules outline procedures for the disclosure of directory information. These Rules also outline the requirements for obtaining prior written consent for the release of student records.

The chart below summarizes some of the important Hawaii Privacy of School records codes.

Relevant Hawaii Privacy of School Records Codes  

Who Has Access to School Records?

Parents or guardians of a child under 18 years of age can gain access. Authorized law enforcement officers can also gain access to the attendance and enrollment records of a student. Police can also get contact information for the student's parents or legal guardian from the school. This is usually for parent notification for safety emergencies.

Agency to Contact for Complaints

You may want to file a complaint about school record privacy violations. If so, contact the U.S. Department of Education Student Privacy Policy Office.

Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws

Violations can result in severe penalties at the federal level. Schools found in violation of FERPA may face the loss of federal funding. This includes both grants and loans. Additionally, individuals responsible for unauthorized disclosure of student records can be held responsible. This means they are subject to fines or other disciplinary actions. The U.S. Department of Education imposes these actions.

Note: State laws are subject to change and may do so at any time. They change most often through the enactment of newly signed legislation and higher court decisions. You may want to also contact a Hawaii education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Right to Privacy in Schools

Students and their parents have a fundamental right to privacy in schools. This includes the protection of sensitive information contained in education records. Examples of this information include the student's name, telephone number, place of birth, and dates of attendance. 

This right extends to ensuring that student records are accurate, secure, and used only for lawful purposes. Educational agencies have a responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of student information. They can only disclose such information when authorized by law or with written consent from the parent or eligible student. This authorization is often given through a written request.

Getting Legal Help

If you think your or your students' privacy rights have been violated, consider seeking legal help. Lawyers can help clarify student privacy and parental rights. Attorneys with experience in education law can provide guidance. They can represent you to protect your student's rights and help ensure compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and school district policies. 

Attorneys can help explain your FERPA rights and the requirements of FERPA. They can also help communicate with the Hawaii Department of Education.

Consider consulting a qualified Hawaii education attorney about your potential case.

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