Notification of Rights Under FERPA
The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students over age 18 ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the students education records. They are:
- The right to inspect and review the student's education record within 45 days of the day the District receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the school principal (or appropriate school official) a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The principal will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Parents or eligible students may ask Mars Area School District to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write to the school principal, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the District decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the District 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.
- 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 District as an administrator, supervisor, instructor or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the School Board; a person or company with whom the District has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant or therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school officials in performing his or her task. 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 District discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. (Note: FERPA requires a school to make a reasonable attempt to notify the student of the record request unless it states in its annual notification that it intends to forward records upon request.) School records are always open and available to parents, and ONLY to school officials who have legitimate "need to know" information about a child. Parents seeking to review a record should make an appointment with their child's counselor or special educator. If requesting a copy of your child's record, it is best to put it in writing and submit requests for cumulative records (report cards, attendance, etc.) to the principal and requests for confidential records (IEPs, psychological assessments, etc.) to the Office of Special Education. By law, the District must furnish these copies within 45 days.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. 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; U.S. Department of Education; 400 Maryland Ave.; SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
Evaluation & Privacy Rights of Students
Mars Area School District and its employees are required by law to protect the rights of students. The foundation of this law is the Federal Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 and Pennsylvania rules and regulations governing special education and Chapter 15 students.
Educational Records, Directory Information & Personally Identifiable Information
Educational Records consist of information directly related to a student that is maintained by an educational agency. Personally Identifiable Information includes the student's name, the name of the parent or other family members, a personal identifier or a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable.
Educational Records and Personally Identifiable Information cannot be disclosed or released without written parental consent or, if a student is over age 18, student consent. Certain information, called "Directory Information," can be released without consent. Directory Information is information contained in an education record of a student, which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
The School District has designated the following as Directory Information: student's name, address, date and place of birth, major field of study, 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 by the student. Written parental consent is necessary for disclosure of information and educational records, unless the student is transferring between school districts. Cumulative and confidential record may be transferred between districts without parental authorization. The consent must:
- specify the record that may be disclosed;
- state the purpose of the disclosure; and
- identify the parties to whom the disclosure may be made.
Furthermore, Mars Area School District maintains a written record of disclosure for parents to inspect in case information has been released.