Parents want to protect their children, including their personal information that’s kept in school records. Some of the law in this area is federal; others are additional protections developed by West Virginia legislators and the West Virginia Board of Education.
Federal Laws on the Privacy of School Records
The main federal law on school record privacy is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). FERPA informs school districts on how to handle parent or guardian requests for their children’s school records and amendments of the records requests after reviewing them and finding inaccuracies. Generally, a school can’t give a student’s educational records to anyone without written parental consent, although there are some exceptions under FERPA. A few examples are turning over records as required to report child abuse, assess suicide risk, or comply with a valid subpoena of the educational records of a defendant or witness to a crime.
State Privacy of School Record Laws in West Virginia
West Virginia takes data privacy of educational records seriously. Several laws, policies, and guidelines have been instituted to help schools keep student information confidential.
The following table outlines West Virginia’s main laws on privacy of school records.
|Code Sections||West Virginia Code Section 18-2-5H: Student Data Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability Act
WV Board of Education Policy 4350: Collection, Maintenance, and Disclosure of Student Data
West Virginia Department of Education: Data Access & Management Guidance
|Who Has Access to School Records?||Very few individuals have access to student records, including statewide collected student data. Obviously school district administrators, teachers, or other staff can see (and often create) the records. Students and their parents or guardians have access to their own or their child’s records.
West Virginia Department of Education staff and contractors or staff of other agencies can see them as required by law.
|Directory Information||Sometimes schools keep directories, which include student names, addresses, phone numbers, any sports or activities the students are involved in, and dates of attendance. If a directory is kept, schools have to tell parents and guardians of the right to restrict disclosure of that information before disclosing the information.|
|Where to File a Privacy Complaint||If you’re concerned that your student’s privacy has been violated, you can submit an incident report to the West Virginia Department of Education. For more information, you can call the Office of Legal Services & Accountability at 304-558-7881.
You can also file a complaint with the federal U.S. Department of Education for FERPA complaints. You can call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) for more information.
Besides filing a complaint with the state and/or federal departments of education, you can contact an experienced West Virginia education lawyer. A good lawyer will explain the law in a way you can understand and inform you of your legal options, such as suing the school for improper disclosure of your child’s records.
Note: State laws are revised regularly. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these school record privacy laws.
Research the Law
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