Pennsylvania Privacy of School Records Laws

State laws dictate how a student's school records are to be maintained and shared. On one hand, parents may feel entitled to view their children's records, but there also is a valid argument that unfettered access could be detrimental to honest evaluations. Pennsylvania privacy of school records laws require access to parents and for health records to be transferred to other state schools.

The basics of Pennsylvania's privacy of school records laws are listed and discussed below. See FindLaw's School Privacy section for related resources.

Code Section Tit. 23 §5309; Tit. 24§1409
Who Has Access to School Records? Both parents; child's school health record transferred to other PA school or to parent/guardian. Court may deny access to records when domestic violence is present in family.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws -

School Records Privacy

Although it may seem strange that teachers and schools would not want to completely disclose a child's school records to the parents, there are a few common arguments that schools make for keeping some records private.

The first is that disclosing some information to the student or parent may have a detrimental effect on the student's overall academic performance. Often, teachers keep their own private records of students' progress and educational needs throughout the year. The teacher may take note that a student seems to have a low ability in a certain area, in order to remember to give that student extra help in that area. Disclosing that a teacher believes a student may have a poor ability may create a disincentive for the student to try harder in that subject, or could detrimentally affect that student's self-esteem. As well, not all teachers are trained in assessing true academic ability or intellectual acuity. Just because a teacher makes a note to himself does not mean that the teacher's perceptions are true. Disclosing an untrue observance to the student or parent could impede the student's academic progress by undermining the student's and parents' trust in the teacher.

As well, some schools try different teaching styles in different classrooms, to try to find the best teaching method for different subjects and different age groups. Teachers and schools often track the progress of the different learning styles. A good teacher would never try a teaching style that could hinder a student's learning progress, but finding out that a teacher or school uses "experimental" teaching methods on its students may breed distrust between the parents, students, and schools, which may get in the way of a student's ability to learn.

Pennsylvania School Records Laws

Both parents will generally have access to a student's school records, and there are some exceptions for withholding information from parents. Some student rights give a student access to the records themselves. Courts may deny a parent's access to school records when there is a history of violence in the family. As well, schools may transfer student records to another school when a student changes schools within Pennsylvania.

If you would like to know more about school records laws in Pennsylvania, there are many education lawyers throughout the state who may be able to help.

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