When you are trying to get education for your child with special needs, you must interact frequently with teachers, aides, school officials, administrators and government agencies. Sometimes this means sharing personal information about yourself and your child. You may want to limit the spread of some of this information.
The Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) grants to parents certain privacy rights regarding their education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from a program of the U.S. Department of Education. Rights provided under the law include:
- The right to inspect and review records.
- The right to request corrections to education records.
- The right to consent to the release of any information from education records. (Some exceptions apply.)
Once the student reaches age 18, these rights transfer to the student.
How does IDEA work with FERPA?
A second federal law supplements FERPA and has confidentiality provisions tailored to children with special needs and their parents. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) adds further protections. For instance, under IDEA, public agencies must notify parents when they no longer need information from education records and must destroy it upon request.
These protections apply primarily to public school students, but they may apply to students at private schools under some circumstances.
Special needs education demands that parents, advocates and school staff balance the specific education needs and privacy rights of the student with access to public information. Keeping track of all this can be difficult and may require professional help.