Massachusetts Privacy of School Records Laws

The privacy of a student's school records is a matter of some debate. For example, many teachers believe that certain critical evaluations meant to be used internally, such as "warnings" to other teachers about behavior problems, may cause problems if accessed by parents. In Massachusetts, school records are not subject to public inspection and communications with counselors are considered privileged. But, the state allows parents and adult students to access records upon request. Learn about Massachusetts' privacy of school records laws with the following chart and links.

Code Section

Massachusetts privacy of school records laws can be found in Massachusetts General Laws sections 34A-34H.

Who Has Access to School Records?

A student or former student has the right to receive a transcript from the school he or she attends or used to attend. A copy of the first transcript must be provided free of charge but a limited fee may be charged for additional transcripts.

Parents or guardians of a child in elementary or secondary schools have the right inspect records concerning their child. A student over the age of eighteen also has the right to inspect his or her records. The board of education must have regulations regarding the maintenance and retention of school documents.

Generally, parents with and without custody have access to student records unless one of the following applies:

  • There is a protective order in place prohibiting a parent’s access to the child; or
  • The parent is denied visitation or is ordered to supervised visitation due to a threat to the child.

Massachusetts General Laws section 34H outlines the specific procedures for requesting student records.

What Records Must be Made Available?

Elementary and secondary school records that must be made available to parents include the following:

  • Report cards and process reports;
  • Achievement test results;
  • Referral for a special needs assessment;
  • Notification of absences or illnesses;
  • Notification of disciplinary actions like detentions, suspensions, and expulsions

Penalty for  Violation of School Record Privacy Laws

If a school fails to provide a transcript with thirty days of the initial request, the student or parent (if the student is a minor) may petition the court. The court may issue any remedies it deems necessary under the circumstances, including court costs and attorney’s fees.

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Whether you are a parent or an adult student, a Massachusetts education attorney can help answer additional questions you may have.

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