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Montana Privacy of School Records Laws

Privacy of school records is a crucial aspect of education. These laws help ensure the protection of students' personal information. In the state of Montana, laws exist to safeguard student privacy. These laws regulate the handling of education records. These laws are designed to comply with federal statutes like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA sets out guidelines for the privacy of student records. Understanding Montana's privacy laws is essential for students, parents, and guardians. Educators and administrators alike also benefit from this important information. Let's explore Montana's statutes in more detail below.

Privacy of School Records Laws Generally

Under federal law, “education records" are broadly defined as any records directly related to a student. These records are maintained by an educational agency or institution. These records can include information such as grades, transcripts, disciplinary records, and more. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) grants students and their parents certain rights. These rights concern educational records. They include the right to inspect, review, and request changes to the records if they believe them to be inaccurate. Some information can be disclosed if school officials have a legitimate educational interest in their disclosure.

FERPA also prohibits the disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII). PII is information from education records. This information can't be disclosed without the consent of the student or parent, with some exceptions. Directory information, such as a student's name and telephone number, may be disclosed without consent. This is so unless the student or parent specifically opts out. Law enforcement records maintained by the school district are not considered education records under FERPA. They may be disclosed without consent in certain circumstances.

Montana Privacy of School Records Laws

Montana law supplements federal privacy protections for student education records. The Montana Code Annotated (M.C.A.) includes provisions that align with FERPA's requirements. They provide additional and more detailed privacy safeguards. For example, Montana law prohibits including a student's Social Security number in education records unless required by federal law or with the consent of the student or parent. It also establishes procedures for releasing student records in response to subpoenas or court orders.

Montana law also recognizes the importance of privacy protection for students receiving special education services. It requires consent for the release of their records. Overall, Montana's privacy laws aim to balance the need for access to student information with the imperative to safeguard individual privacy rights.

Code Section
Who Has Access to School Records?h Personal records, medical records, and other records relating to matters where the right to individual privacy exceeds the merits of public disclosure shall not be available to the public unless the person concerned requests they be made public.
Federal Agency to Contact with 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 office was formerly the Family Policy Compliance Office.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws Violations can result in severe penalties at the federal level. Schools found violating FERPA may face the loss of federal funding. This includes both grants and loans. Additionally, persons 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 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 Montana education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Getting Legal Help

There may be times when you or your child's right to privacy are violated. In these instances, you have the right to seek legal help. Lawyers can help clarify student privacy and parental rights. Attorneys with experience in education law can provide guidance and representation to protect students' rights. They can also help ensure compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and school district policies. Attorneys can also review and give guidance on subpoenas and other court orders.

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

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