Alabama Privacy of School Records Laws

The question often comes up when students are sent to the principal's office for disrupting class or faced with yet another standardized test: "Will this go on my permanent record?" Students rarely get a straight answer to this question, but educational records are not so easily categorized. The privacy of school records is protected by a combination of federal and state law, but this information generally is only available to school administrators, students, and their parents.

Alabama Law and the Privacy of School Records

Alabama law has little to say about the privacy of school records, which means federal law (discussed in more detail later) governs in its absence. However, state law specifically gives the parents of minor children the right to inspect their children's library records.

The code section and relevant language is provided below:

Code Section 36-12-40
Who Has Access to School Records? Parent of minor child may inspect regulation and circulation records of any school that pertain to his child.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws -

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, voter approval of ballot initiatives, decisions at higher courts, and other means. Be sure to contact an Alabama education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

How Does Federal Law Protect the Privacy of School Records in Alabama?

Regardless of state law, the federal Family Educational Records Protection Act (FERPA) generally protects the privacy interests of parents with respect to their children's educational records. FERPA prohibits schools from disclosing educational records or any personally identifiable student information without the parent's written permission. The term "educational records" includes all files, documents, or other materials directly related to a student and maintained by the school. Student information related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) also falls under this protected category.

Once the student turns 18, the protections afforded by FERPA transfer from the parent to the student. Additionally, a student's health records -- which may include immunization records maintained by school administrators, or injuries and other medical-related information recorded by the school nurse -- are protected under FERPA.

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Alabama Privacy of School Records Laws: Related Resources

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