Iowa Privacy of School Records Laws

Iowa seeks to protect the privacy of students and other residents’ personal information from disclosure. To accomplish this, Iowa has enacted a number of state laws, including under the administrative code. In addition, Iowa must also comply with federal laws affecting the privacy of school records. States, including Iowa, can’t disregard federal laws like these because federal laws trump state laws under the legal concept of pre-emption.

Federal Privacy of School Record Laws

The main federal school record privacy laws are the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) of 1978. FERPA tells schools how to handle parent or guardian requests for their child’s education records and amendments to the student’s school records after reviewing them and believing them to be inaccurate. Schools can’t release educational records without written parental consent, except under certain circumstances allowed under FERPA.

PPRA protects parent and student rights by ensuring schools make available for inspection instructional materials and evaluations students may be asked to participate in. Also, PPRA requires schools to obtain written consent from parents before students are required to participate in the surveys or evaluations. Student assessments on certain topics, such as religion or criminal activity, can only be conducted with the prior written consent of the student’s parent or guardian. Once a child is 18 years old or enrolled in college, the child decides whether to participate in these surveys.

State Privacy of School Record Laws in Iowa

The following chart contains the main privacy of school records laws in Iowa.

Code Sections Iowa Code Section 22.7 – Confidential Records
Iowa Administrative Code, Education Department, Chapter 5 – Public Records and Fair Information Practices
Confidentiality of School Records The personal information of a student, prospective student, or former student in records maintained, created, or assembled by a school is confidential. There are some exceptions listed below.
Who Has Access to School Records? Generally, a student and his or her parent or guardian can see the student’s academic records, such as to check the grades or confirm their accuracy. In addition, there are other exceptions to disclosure laws, such as:
  • A parent or guardian can be informed of his or her child’s possession of alcohol under the legal age of 21 or drugs on the school’s campus, or other rules or other rule or law violations on campus
  • Student records can be sent to a post-secondary institution, such as the college the student applies at, at the students request or in compliance with the law
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws If a school doesn’t follow the federal FERPA or PPRA laws, the U.S. Secretary of Education can enforce compliance by, for example, no longer providing federal funds to the wayward school district until it follows the school privacy laws.

As parents, we want to keep our children safe. If you believe your child’s personal information has been shared without your permission by your school or teacher, you should contact an experienced Iowa education lawyer. An education lawyer can help clarify the law and tell you about your legal options, such as seeking compensation for improper disclosure of school records.

Note: State laws are constantly being revised. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these school privacy laws.

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