Confidentiality of Student Records

Updated July 2020

Each local education agency has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information, which is gathered on students in special education. The term "personally identifiable information" pertains to the name of the student, the student's parents or other family members, address of the student, the student's social security number or student number, and/or a list of personal characteristics or other information which would make it possible to identify the student with reasonable certainty.

The personal information in a student's record is confidential and protected. Student records include any personally identifiable information, whether written, recorded or electronic, which districts are required to keep or an employee maintains. Typically, confidential student records are located in the central office, school site office and special education classroom (teacher's file). All confidential files must be kept in a locked location. An access log must be kept in each file. A record must be kept indicating when and to whom access was given and when and to whom records were sent outside the district. A list of district personnel who routinely have access to student files must be posted in the room in which the files are located. All others must be identified in the file log prior to accessing file.

Special Education information and material to be included in the student record file:

1) Copies of IEPs
2) Assessment plans, reports
3) Communications to and from parents, including all mandatory notifications
4) Transition plans
5) Positive behavior management plans

Other non-required, personally identifiable student information, if kept in the student file, is subject to the same provisions of access, review and confidentiality as required student records.

Confidential records and/or information may be transferred between public schools and public school districts within the state of California without written permission by parent, guardian or student over 18 years of age. Records may be transferred by fax or email to appropriate personnel. Records may be shared with contracted vendors or Nonpublic Agencies/Nonpublic Schools who work with students as part of an IEP, without written permission of the parents.

Transfer of confidential records and/or information to either a public school or district outside of the state, a private school or any private or public agency in state or out of state, requires the written consent of the parent, guardian, or student over 18 years of age.

A parent or guardian has the right to inspect and review any education records relating to his/her student. A student who is sixteen years of age or older (or who has completed grade ten) has the same right to review records. With parent/guardian approval, a representative may also review a student's records. When parents request copies, the request must be granted within five days and the district may make a reasonable charge for copies not to exceed the actual cost. The right to inspect and review educational records may extend to electronically kept records, including email, as well as paper copies.

A parent may request that certain information in the file be removed or amended. If the district refuses to amend the records, the parent may write a dissenting statement to be included in the file and request a district level hearing to be held within 30 days.

Any test which renders an IQ score, or which could be understood to be a standardized intelligence test, may not be administered to African-American students and cannot be maintained as part of the student's records. If student records containing IQ scores for African-American students arrive from other states the scores and references to the categories into which they fall should be 'blacked out' before the records are distributed to staff.

The confidentiality provisions of IDEA and FERPA (Family Education Rights to Privacy Act) apply to report cards and transcripts, as well as special education information.

20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99
IDEA PART B 20 U.S.C. 1400 and 34 CFR Part 3001

Click here to download and print "Procedures Guide-Confidentiality" July 2020