The public schools of Chester County maintain records concerning all children enrolled in public school, including students with disabilities. Records containing personally identifiable information about or related to children with disabilities could include, but are not limited to, cumulative grade reports, discipline records, enrollment and attendance records, health records, individualized education programs, notices of recommended assignment, notices of intent to evaluate and reevaluate, comprehensive evaluation reports, other evaluation reports by public school staff and by outside evaluators, work samples, test data, data entered into the Penn Data system, correspondence between school staff and home, instructional support team documents, referral data, memoranda, and other education-related documents. Records can be maintained on paper, on microfiche, on audio or videotape, and electronically. Records can be located in the central administrative offices of the public school, the administrative offices of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, the school building or building at which the student attended or attends school, private schools and facilities at which the public school has placed the child for educational purposes, central storage facilities and electronic storage systems, and in the secure possession of teachers, building administrators, specialists, psychologists, counselors, and other school staff with a legitimate educational interest in the information contained therein. All records are maintained in the strictest confidentiality.
Records are maintained as long as they remain educationally relevant. The purposes of collecting and maintaining records are (1) to ensure that the child receives programs and services consistent with his or her IEP; (2) to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of programming for the child; (3) to document for the public school and the parents that the student is making meaningful progress; (4) to satisfy the requirements of state and federal agencies who have an interest in inspecting or reviewing documents concerning particular students or groups of students for purposes of compliance monitoring, complaint investigation, and fiscal and program audits; and (5) to inform future programming for and evaluations of the child. When educational records, other than those which must be maintained, are no longer educationally relevant, the public school must so notify the parents in writing and may destroy the records or, at the request of the parents, must destroy them. Public schools are not required to destroy records that are no longer educationally relevant unless the parents so request in writing.
Parent consent. Parent consent is required in writing prior to the release of any personally identifiable information concerning a child with disabilities. Parent consent is not required, however, prior to the release of information (1) to a hearing officer in a special education due process hearing; (2) to public school staff and contractors with a legitimate educational interest in the information; (3) to officials or staff of other schools and school systems at which the student is enrolled or intends to enroll; (4) to federal or state education officials and agencies and to the Comptroller of the United States; (5) to accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions; (6) to comply with a lawful subpoena or judicial order; (7) in conjunction with a health or safety emergency to the extent necessary to protect the health and safety of the child or others; or (8) that the public schools have designated as "directory information." Disclosure without consent of the parent is subject to certain conditions more fully described in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C § 1332g, and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 99.
Parent access. Upon submitting a request to do so in writing, parents have the right to access the educational records of their child within forty five days or before any due process hearing or IEP team meeting, whichever is sooner. Access entitles the parent to the following: (1) an explanation and interpretation of the records by public school personnel; (2) copies of the records if providing copies is the only means by which the parent can effectively exercise his or her right of inspection and review; and (3) inspection and review of the records by a representative of the parent's choosing upon presentation to the records custodian of a written authorization from the parent. The public school can charge a fee not to exceed its actual costs for copying records.
"Directory information." Public school entities designate certain kinds of information as "directory information." The public schools of Chester County typically designate the following as "directory information": (1) the name, address, telephone number, and photographs of the child; (2) the date and place of birth of the child; (3) participation in school clubs and extracurricular activities; (4) weight and height of members of athletic teams; (5) dates of attendance; (6) diplomas and awards received; (7) the most recent previous institution or school attended by the child; and (8) names of parents, siblings, and other family members. The District will provide this information to any interested person, including armed forces recruiters who request it, without seeking consent from the parents of the student or the student. Parents who do not want the District to disclose such information must so notify the District in writing on or before the first day of the school term. Written notice must identify the specific types of directory information that the parent does not want the District to disclose without consent. If the parent fails to notify the District in writing by the first day of the school term, the District may release directory information upon request and without consent.
Disclosure of records containing personally identifiable information to other schools and institutions. Public school entities disclose personally identifiable information concerning students to educational agencies or institutions at which the student seeks to enroll, intends to enroll, or is enrolled, or from which the student receives services, when that agency or institution requests such records.
Access to records by school officials with a "legitimate educational interest." School officials with a legitimate educational interest in the personally-identifiable information contained in education records can have access to personally identifiable information without parent or student consent. Each school entity designates in its education records policy those persons who have a "legitimate educational interest" that would allow such access to education records. Such persons typically include teachers of the child, building administrators, guidance counselors to whom the child is assigned, members of instructional support and multidisciplinary teams in the course of screening and evaluation activities, records custodians and clerks, public school administrators with responsibility for programs in which the student is enrolled or intends to be enrolled, school board members sitting in executive session in consideration of matters concerning the child upon which only the school board can act, program specialists and instructional aides working with the child, therapeutic staff working with the child, and substitutes for any of the foregoing persons
Amendment of education records.After reviewing records, a parent or a student who has attained the age of 18 can request that records be amended. The school will make the requested changes or reject the request within forty-five days of the receipt of the request in writing. If the school rejects the request, the parent or student may request an informal hearing. The hearing can be held before any public school official who does not have a direct interest in its outcome. If the parents are dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal hearing, they may submit to the public school a statement outlining their disagreement with the record. The school thereafter must attach a copy of that statement to all copies of the record disclosed to third parties.
Complaints to the United States Department of Education. Complaints concerning alleged failure of a public school entity to comply with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be addressed to the United States Department of Education as follows:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605