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Rhode Island Privacy of School Records Laws

A combination of federal and state laws protects the confidentiality of student records, although most states simply rely on federal law. There are numerous types of personal student information that may be collected over the years, including notes from guidance counselors, disciplinary records, and even personal health care information. Since federal academic record privacy law applies to any school receiving federal funding, virtually all public schools are covered by the law.

Rhode Island Laws Concerning the Privacy of School Records

The state of Rhode Island does not provide statutory guidance with regard to school records access, although federal law protects the privacy of student records. Still, the state makes it a crime to ask personal questions about students (perhaps by circulating a questionnaire) without the approval of school officials.

Additional details about state and federal privacy laws affecting Rhode Islanders are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's School Privacy section to learn more.

Code Section 16-38-5
Who Has Access to School Records? No specific provisions.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws Misdemeanor to circulate a questionnaire "so framed as to ask intimate questions about themselves or families, thus trespassing upon the pupils' constitutional rights and invading the privacy of the home" without approval of local school commissioner and department of education; can be fined $50 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days
Federal Agency to Contact with Complaints

To file a complaint about school record privacy violations, contact the U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) at 1-8000-872-5327 or:

Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. You may want to contact a Rhode Island education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Federal Protection of School Records

FERPA prohibits schools from disclosing personally identifiable educational records without the parent's written permission, including files, documents, health records, or other materials pertaining to a student and maintained by the school. PPRA places certain restrictions on the participation by students in surveys, evaluations, or other potential disclosure of sensitive information.

Research the Law

Rhode Island Law and the Privacy of School Records: Related Resources

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