Both state and federal laws generally protect the privacy of students’ personal information from disclosure. The main laws in this area are federal, which mean every state must follow them. New Mexico can’t disregard federal school records privacy laws because federal law trumps state law under the legal concept of pre-emption.
Federal Laws on the Privacy of School Records
There are two primary federal laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) of 1978. FERPA informs schools how to handle parent or guardian requests for their student’s school records and requests for amendments to those records after reviewing them and finding them inaccurate. Schools can’t turn over a student’s educational records without written parental consent, although there are some exceptions under FERPA.
The second law, PPRA protects parent and student rights by making sure that parents can inspect the curriculum and any evaluations students may be asked to participate in. PPRA requires schools to also obtain written parental consent before students are able to participate in those surveys. Student assessments about some controversial topics, such as religion or sex or drug experimentation, can only be given to minors with the prior written consent of their parents. After a student turns 18 years old or is enrolled in college, the student decides whether to participate in these surveys and no parental consent is needed.
State Privacy of School Record Laws in New Mexico
The table below details the main privacy of school records laws in New Mexico.
|Code Sections||New Mexico Administrative Code Section 126.96.36.199(E) – (School) Records and Reports|
|School Records Procedural Requirements||School districts and charter schools must maintain all personally identifiable educational records in compliance with FERPA (described above) and the New Mexico public records request act. In addition, they should be safe from fire and theft and be stored in way they can be retrieved reasonably.|
|Who Has Access to School Records?||In general, a student and his or her parent or guardian can view the student’s academic records, for example to check the grades or confirm their accuracy. A parent or student can also request records be sent to universities or college and the school district may have a form that needs to be filed out to get that accomplished.
To be clear, if a student’s parents aren’t together, the custodial and non-custodial parent both have access to the school records. However, there may be other reasons a parent is no longer legally able to review his or her child’s school records.
|Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws||When a school doesn’t follow the laws in FERPA or PPRA, the U.S. Secretary of Education can enforce compliance. One of the ways this can be done is through the purse strings, by no longer providing federal funds to that school district until it properly follows the school privacy laws.|
Parents want to keep their children safe, including their child’s educational opportunities and credit. If you think your student’s personal information was shared without your permission by a New Mexico school, you should contact an experienced local education lawyer. A good lawyer will help clarify the law and tell you what your legal options are, such as suing the school for improper disclosure of your child’s records.
Note: State laws change frequently. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these school privacy laws.
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