School Business Affairs June 2020

36 JUNE 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS LEGAL ISSUES long as doing so does not effectively prevent persons from exercising their rights to inspect and review the records requested. Amending Records Individuals who disagree with the content of educational records may ask school officials to amend the dis- puted information. If officials refuse to amend records within reasonable times, parties are entitled to hearings at which independent third-party hearing officers evaluate whether the challenged materials are accurate and appropriately contained in the records. Hearing officers must both conduct hearings and render deci- sions within reasonable times. If hearing officers agree that contested materials are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise violating student privacy rights, educators must amend them and inform the parties in writing that changes have been made. Conversely, if hearing officers find that the materials are not inaccurate nor misleading or do not otherwise violate students’ pri- vacy rights, the records need not be removed or amended. Still, parents or students who remain concerned over the content of the records can add statements explaining their therein. Persons accessing files are forbidden from disclosing infor- mation except to individuals or entities engaged in addressing the educational needs of the students and are authorized to receive such disclosures as long as the man- ner in which data are released is consistent with applicable law protecting the confidentiality of the underlying records. Third parties seeking disclosure of student records must obtain written consent from parents or qualified students specifying the record(s) to be released, the reason(s) for the proposed release, to whom the information is being given, and proof that petitioners have the right to receive copies of the materials. Educators must maintain a record of individuals or groups—except exempted parties—who request or obtain access to student records both explaining the legitimate interests of those granted access and preserving this information with the records in question. Education agencies maintaining student records must comply with requests for review without unnecessary delay. Education agencies maintain- ing student records must comply with requests for review without unnecessary delay. In other words, unless parents or students agree otherwise, officials must grant access no later than 45 days after receiving requests. Nothing prevents officials from granting access to records more quickly. Officials receiving requests for access to records may not charge fees to search for or to retrieve stu- dent files. After materials are located, officials may charge for copies so objections; the objections must be kept with the contested infor- mation for as long as the items remain on file. Destruction of Records The volume of records in student files—especially for children in special education placements—can multiply rapidly. Accordingly, the regulations under the Individu- als with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) address the destruction of information that is no longer needed. Although neither the IDEA nor its regulations define the term “no lon- ger needed,” the regulations indicate that records such as outdated indi- vidualized education plans can be destroyed when they are no longer needed to provide children with ser- vices. However, the regulations do not specify how long officials must wait before acting. The regulations add that officials must notify parents and quali- fied students that records will be destroyed and that officials can save, without any time limit, records that include students’ names, addresses, phone numbers, grades, attendance records, classes attended, and grade levels completed plus the years in which they were completed. DENISISMAGILOV/STOCK.ADOBE.COM