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Minnesota Privacy of School Records Laws

Privacy laws in Minnesota play a vital role in safeguarding students' sensitive information. These laws ensure that educational institutions handle students' data responsibly. They also ensure that schools respect students' privacy rights. Understanding these laws is crucial for students, parents, and educators. Educational agencies must maintain student confidentiality and protect personal information. The following information explores Minnesota privacy laws in more detail.

Privacy of School Records Laws Generally

One of the key federal laws governing student privacy is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA sets guidelines for the protection of students' educational records nationwide. Under federal law, educational institutions must follow FERPA regulations. These regulations grant eligible students and their parents certain rights. These rights revolve around the privacy of students' education records. They include the right to inspect and review educational records.

FERPA also includes the right to request amendments to inaccurate or misleading information. This includes the right to consent to personally identifiable information (PII) disclosure. Some information, like the child's date of birth or Social Security number, should remain confidential.

FERPA also outlines exceptions to consent requirements. This includes disclosures to school officials with legitimate educational interests. This could be a safety emergency. Or it could be used to support the student through educational data and other student information.

Minnesota Privacy of School Records Laws

In Minnesota, data privacy laws on school records supplement federal regulations. Minnesota statutes further protect students' privacy by defining “private data." The state specifies procedures for handling such information. For instance, educational agencies must get prior written consent. Before disclosing private data, this consent must be from eligible students or their parents. This is the case except in certain situations outlined in state law.

Directory information, such as a student's name, grade level, and dates of attendance, may be disclosed without consent. This is the case under both federal and state law. A student's parent or the eligible student can submit a written request to withhold such information. Minnesota law also provides guidelines for the release of student data. This is for specific purposes, such as enrollment, financial aid, or military recruiting. This helps ensure that information is shared responsibly under legal requirements.

In Minnesota, only students enrolled in educational services and their guardians can access school records. Minnesota's laws regarding the privacy of school records are highlighted in the following table.

Code Section

MN Statutes § 13.02 et seq.

Who Has Access to School Records?

Records are private except for directory information. These records shouldn't be released. This information can only be released through a valid court order or subpoena. The minor may request information to be withheld from the parent or guardian. They can do this if it is in the best interests of the child.

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. This was formerly the Family Policy Compliance Office.

Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws

Willful violation by political subdivision: exemplary damages of up to $15,000 per violation plus costs and reasonable attorneys fees. Violations can also 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. Persons responsible for unauthorized disclosure of student records can also be held responsible. This means they are subject to fines or other disciplinary actions. The U.S. Department of Education imposes these penalties.

Note: State laws are always 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 also may want to contact a Minnesota education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Getting Legal Help

If you have concerns about the privacy of your or your child's educational records in Minnesota, seeking legal guidance is essential. An attorney familiar with Minnesota privacy laws can provide advice on your rights. They can help guide your options for protecting sensitive information. Resources such as the U.S. Department of Education can also offer further information and help regarding FERPA and related regulations. Understanding your rights under federal and Minnesota state law is essential for maintaining the privacy and security of student data.

Consult a qualified Minnesota education attorney about your potential case today.

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