South Dakota Privacy of School Records Laws

The privacy of a students' school records is protected by law in most states, but there are divergent views on this. On one hand, students and their parents believe they are entitled to all student records. But others, including teachers, believe sharing some records (such as a "warning" to another teacher that a student is disruptive) may backfire and cause discord with the student's family.

In South Dakota, students' school records are private. In general, only authorized school personnel, parents (whether custodial or not), legal guardians, students who have reached age 18, state and local education officials, and persons with court orders may inspect student records.

Authorization Required

Others must have the parent's written permission. It is the school’s responsibility to know who has been allowed access to records and to keep careful record of what was released to whom and for what purpose.

What Laws Govern Student Records?

Ingeneral, federal and state law on student records Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) restricts the release of information in a student's permanent file to outside agencies without a court order or parental permission.

This doesn't mean that school officials cannot discuss a student's behavior with law enforcement or social services without a court order or parental permission. However, they can only share information that is outside of the student's educational record. For example, a school principal could inform law enforcement that he or she found a student with a knife in his locker, but cannot share with law enforcement that the student's grades have recently dropped.

Reasons to Keep Some Records Confidential

Although one may think that schools and parents would be at odds about disclosing a student's records, there are a few situations in which a school may believe that it is in the student's best interest to not disclose records. Sometimes, teachers keep track of a student's progress, and may take personal notes to remind them to give a student extra help in a subject that the student seems to have trouble with.

These may be private notes intended for the teacher's use only, and could contain information about a student's perceived intellectual challenges. If the student or parent finds out that the teacher does not have the utmost faith in a student's academic ability, the relationship between the student and teacher could suffer, harming the student's overall educational progress.

The main provisions of South Dakota's privacy of school records laws are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's School Privacy section for related articles.

Code Section(s) 19-13-21.1; 25-5-7.3; 27B-6-2
Who Has Access to School Records?
  • Authorized school personnel;
  • Parents;
  • Legal guardians;
  • Students who have reached age 18,
  • State and local education officials,
  • Persons with court orders.
Penalty for Violation of School Record Privacy Laws

N/A

Note: State laws surrounding the issues of student privacy rights are constantly changing. You may wish to contact a South Dakota education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching. Most attorneys offer free consultations.

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