JRA

STUDENT RECORDS

In order to provide students with appropriate educational services, it is necessary for the Smithfield Public Schools to maintain accurate and sometimes personally identifiable information about students and their families. In recognition of the confidential nature of personally identifiable information contained in student records, no person, agency or firm seeking information is entitled to access without prior written consent of a parent or an eligible student, except in accordance with disclosures authorized by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Rhode Island Educational Records Bill of Rights. The Smithfield Public Schools further recognizes its responsibility to provide parents annual written notice of their rights relating to access, disclosure, amendment, and destruction of education records. Every officer, employee and agent of the school district shares in the responsibility to protect students’ rights to confidentiality.

DEFINITIONS

Directory Information – Information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, grade level classification, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, and photograph.

Disclosure – To permit access to or the release, transfer, or other communication of personally identifiable information contained in education records to any party, by any means, including oral, written, or electronic media.

Education Record – Any record (in handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, or other medium) maintained by the Smithfield Public Schools or an authorized agent of the school district, which contains information directly related to a student, except a personal record kept by a staff member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and is not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.

Eligible Student – A student or former student who has reached the age of eighteen (18).

Legitimate Educational Interest – A school official has a legitimate educational interest in a student’s education record if the official is: performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement; performing a task related to a student's education; performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as healthcare, counseling, or job placement.

Parent – A natural parent, a legal guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian. Unless precluded by a legally binding document, evidence to be produced by the custodial parent, a non-custodial parent will have access to a student’s records. In the case of joint custody, each parent will be granted access.

School District – The Smithfield Public School system.

School Official – A person employed by the Smithfield Public Schools as an administrator, supervisor, teacher, tutor, provider of related services, or support staff member, including health or medical staff, a person elected to the School Committee, or a person employed or under contract to the school district to perform a special task, such as an attorney, auditor, consultant, or therapist.

ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL RECORDS

Parents and eligible students have a right to review the student’s education records under administrative supervision during those times the school is normally in session. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records will be provided within ten (10) working days of the day the school district receives a written request for access. Where a record contains information about students other than a parent’s child or the eligible student, the parent or eligible student may not inspect or review the portion of the record that pertains to other students.

Parents or eligible students should submit to the school principal, the Director of Special Education, or Superintendent a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The responsible administrator will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The parent or eligible student is entitled to an explanation of any information contained in the student’s record.

Parents and eligible students are entitled to copies of education records, at a cost not to exceed fifteen cents ($.15) per page.


DISCLOSURE OF EDUCATIONAL RECORDS

The Smithfield Public Schools will disclose information from a student’s education records only with the prior written consent of the parent or eligible student, except that the school district may disclose without consent when the disclosure is:

1. To a “school official” who has a “legitimate educational interest” in the records. (NOTE: The terms “school official” and “legitimate educational interest” are defined herein. In addition, the Director of Special Education will maintain a list of those individuals within the school district who may access special education records.)

2. To officials of another school, upon request, in which the student seeks or intends to enroll.

3. To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with audit and evaluation of certain State or federally supported education programs.

4. In connection with a student’s request for or receipt of financial aid to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid or to enforce the terms and conditions of said aid.

5. To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the Smithfield Public Schools.

6. To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions.

7. To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for income tax purposes.

8. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.

9. To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.

10. To individuals requesting directory information so designated by the Smithfield Public Schools.

The Smithfield Public Schools will disclose education records in response to a lawfully issued subpoena only after providing written notice to the parent or eligible student of the receipt of the subpoena and allowance of a reasonable amount of time for the parent or eligible student either to grant written consent for the disclosure or to seek protective action.

AMENDMENTS OF EDUCATION RECORDS

Parents or eligible students have the right to ask to have records corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. Following are the procedures for the correction of records:

1. Parents or the eligible student must petition the Smithfield Public Schools in writing to amend a record. In so doing, they should identify the part of the record they want changed and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the students’ privacy rights.

2. The Smithfield Public Schools may comply with the request or it may decide not to comply. If it decides not to comply, the school district will notify the parents or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights.

3. Upon request, the Smithfield Public Schools will arrange for a hearing and notify the parents or eligible student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

4. The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party; however, the hearing officer may be an official of the Smithfield Public Schools. The parents or eligible student shall be afforded full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised in the original request to amend the student’s education records. One or more individuals may assist the parents or student, including an attorney.

5. The hearing officer will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.

6. If the Smithfield Public Schools decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the parents or eligible student, in writing, that the record has been amended.

7. If the Smithfield Public Schools decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right of privacy, it will notify the parents or eligible student that they have a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or statement setting forth reasons for disagreement with the decision.

8. The statement will be maintained as a part of the student’s education records as long as the contested portion is maintained. If the Smithfield Public Schools disclose the contested portion of the record, it must also disclose the statement.

9. Any interested person aggrieved hereunder by a final decision of the Smithfield Public Schools shall have a right to appeal said decision to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education in accordance with the provisions of Title 16, Chapter 39 of the RI General Laws.

ANNUAL NOTIFICATION

Parents will be notified of their rights in regard to their children’s education records annually by publication in the grade appropriate student handbook. The school administration will utilize alternative means to provide effective notice to parents of students identified as having a primary or home language other than English. Annual notice will be provided in the following format:

NOTIFICATION OF RIGHTS RELATING TO STUDENT RECORDS

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Rhode Island Educational Bill of Rights Act afford parents and students over 18 years of age (“eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. They are:

1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within ten (10) days of the day the school district receives a written request for access.

Parents or eligible students should submit to the school principal, the Director of Special Education, or Superintendent a written request that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The responsible administrator will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Parents and eligible students are also entitled to copies of education records, at a cost not to exceed fifteen cents (‘$.15) per page.

2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes is inaccurate or misleading.

Parents or eligible students may ask the Smithfield Public Schools to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write to the school principal, Director of Special Education, or Superintendent of Schools, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.

If the responsible custodian of the record decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the responsible administrator will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.

3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the Smithfield Public Schools as an administrator, supervisor, teacher, tutor, provider of related services, or support staff member, including health or medical staff, a person elected to the School Committee, or a person employed or under contract to the school district to perform a special task, such as an attorney, auditor, consultant, or therapist.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

Upon request, the Smithfield Public Schools District discloses educational records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

4. The right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the District to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office

US Department of education

600 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC 20202-4605

5. The right to notice that the Smithfield Public Schools have been served with a lawful subpoena prior to the release of confidential information, subject to certain exclusions as set forth in FERPA.

Parents and eligible students are further informed that the Smithfield Public Schools considers the following information to be Directory Information: student name, parents’ names, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, grade level classification, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, and photograph. The Smithfield Public Schools may disclose any item considered as Directory Information without prior written consent, unless previously notified in writing to the contrary by the parent or eligible student.

RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION OF EDUCATION RECORDS

Education records are stored in a variety of locations throughout the school district. The school principal is the custodian for all general education records stored within the school building, including, but not limited to, attendance information, academic and testing records, documentation of accommodations and modifications, discipline files, and confidential health care information. The Director of Special Education is the custodian for all special education records, wherever they may be located within the school district. The Superintendent of Schools is the custodian for all other education records, including transportation records, correspondence with law enforcement authorities, and school committee records.

Information contained in students’ education records is periodically reviewed and deleted or destroyed whenever the custodian of the records determines that said information is no longer needed to provide education services to the child, which shall include establishing compliance with applicable law relating to the education of the child. Information relating to the student’s identify, address, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, year completed, and academic achievement will be kept for a period of not less than 100 years. All other education records shall be destroyed five years after the information is no longer needed to provide education services to the child.

Students and parents of students graduating from high school shall be notified in writing of those education records that will be routinely destroyed and the expected schedule of such destruction. In addition, a notice shall be placed in the local newspaper to inform parents and students that education records are to be destroyed, in order to provide them with the opportunity to take custody of such records prior to destruction.

Upon request of the parent or eligible student, the school district will destroy all personally identifiable information relating to a student with a disability who was evaluated and/or provided services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, provided that the information is no longer needed to provide education services to the student. However, a permanent record of the student’s name, address, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed may be maintained without time limitation.


ADOPTED: 4/26/1999