Louisiana Privacy of School Records Laws

Federal law and Louisiana state law require public school records be kept confidential, ensuring they aren’t unnecessarily disclosed. The two main federal laws regarding the privacy of school records are the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Louisiana schools must follow these laws and can’t disregard them because federal laws trump state laws.

FERPA informs schools about how to handle parent or guardian requests for either their child’s education records or amendments to the student’s school records after reviewing them and finding them inaccurate. Schools can’t release student educational records without written consent of the parent, except as listed below. If a school needs written parental or guardian consent to release personally identifiable student academic records, they must provide the parent or guardian the following information:

  1. Records to be released
  2. Reason(s) for the release
  3. Organization or individual requesting the records
  4. Manner the records will be released (electronic, paper, etc.)
  5. Right to review or receive a copy of the records released

The PPRA protects parent and student rights by requiring schools make available for inspection instruction materials, surveys, and evaluations that students could be asked to participate in. Also, PPRA makes schools get written consent from parents or guardians before students are required to participate in the surveys or evaluations. Student assessments on any of the following issues can only be conducted with the prior written consent of the student’s parent:

  • Political or religious affiliations or beliefs
  • Mental conditions
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Criminal or self-incriminating behaviors
  • Critical appraisals of the student’s close relatives or family friends
  • Legally privileged relationships or the equivalent, such as lawyer-student, doctor-student, or clergy-student relationships
  • Income, except as required by law (such as free or reduced school lunch or other public benefits)
  • Social Security Number

The prior written consent of a parent to survey his or her student is only valid if the school makes available a copy of the survey for review at convenient times and locations at least two weeks after parents receive the written notice. The reviewable information should include:

  1. How the assessment will be taken
  2. What information will be obtained
  3. The purpose of the survey
  4. Who’ll have access to the information
  5. How a parent can give permission to survey the child or view the child’s academic records

Once a student is 18 years old or attends college or post-secondary vocational school, only the student’s consent is required for these evaluations. However, Louisiana law requires post-secondary schools to provide academic records to the parents of dependent children.

The table below further details the state and federal laws on the privacy of school records as they apply to Louisiana students.

Code Sections Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 17: Education Code Section 17:112 – Student Academic Records & Parental Rights, 17:3136 – Disclosure of Post-Secondary Student Education Records, Access to Parents of Dependent Children
Who Has Access to School Records? A student’s custodial and non-custodial parent has the right to inspect their child's student academic records in accordance with FERPA. Inability to pay a fine, debt, or other obligation can’t result in the school withholding the record for the student’s parent.
Exceptions to Parental Consent Requirements As with everything else, there are exceptions to the parental consent requirements. If there’s an immediate safety concern, school records can be shared, such as when:

  • Reporting suspected child abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities
  • Assessing a child for suicide risk
  • Answering a court order for the records, for example a subpoena for academic records of a defendant or witness to a crime
  • Disclosing disciplinary records of a student posing a safety risk to himself or herself, other students, or the community
  • Sharing disciplinary actions with another teacher who has a legitimate educational interest in the student’s behavior
  • Providing the police or prosecutors school records for authorized investigations or prosecutions of potential domestic or international terrorism
Penalty for Failure to Keep School Records School superintendents and teachers at public schools are required to make and keep school records as required by the state superintendent of education, or they can have their salaries withheld. If a principal willfully fails to make a report to the local superintendent, he or she won’t receive his or her salary until the report is made.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws The U.S. Secretary of Education works with school districts to get them to voluntarily comply with federal privacy laws. If not in compliance, the Secretary can enforce the laws by, for example, no longer giving federal funds to the school until it follows the school privacy laws.
Agency to Contact with Concerns If you think that you or your student’s school privacy rights were violated, you could file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education through the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) at 1-8000-872-5327 or:

FPCO
Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920

If you have questions about you or your student’s school records, you should consult with an experienced Louisiana education law attorney.

Note: Because state and federal laws change regularly, it’s important to verify these laws by conducting your own legal research or contacting a local attorney.

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