Schools must keep records of certain types of student information. This article gives parents and students an overview of the types of information school records should include, who can see a student’s school records, and what to do when there is a dispute about the information included in the school records.
What is in my child’s school records?
Schools must keep certain information or records that have to do with your child’s education. The records should include the observations of your child’s teachers and other people who work at the school. The records should show how much progress your child is making in school. The records must also include information about things like your child’s attendance, classes, and grades. The school must also keep records about your child’s health. These records must be kept in a separate place.
Am I allowed to see my child’s school records?
You have the right to see your child’s school records. If you want to see the records, write a letter to your child’s principal asking to see them. If your child receives special education services, you can write the letter to your child’s special education case manager. Keep a copy of your letter. You should be allowed to see the records within 10 days of asking for them. The school is not allowed to change anything in the records between the time you ask to see the records and when you see them.
If my child does not live with me, can I still see her school records?
Yes, even if you do not have physical custody of your child you are still permitted to see your child’s school records. If there is a court order that terminates your parental rights or limits your custody rights, you may not be permitted to see your child’s school records.
Am I allowed to take notes or have a copy of my child’s school records?
You have the right to take notes while reading your child’s records. You also have the right to ask for a copy of the records. However, the district may charge a fee for making copies unless you are unable to pay the fee.
What if I do not understand what is in my child’s school records?
If you have trouble understanding the records, someone at the school should explain them to you. If English is not your first language or you are hearing-impaired, the school must interpret the records.
Can my child see his school records?
Children can see their school records with or without parental permission when they turn 18.
Usually children under 18 can only see their school records with parental permission. If your child is at least 16 years old and has graduated or stopped going to school, your child will be able to see his records without your permission.
My child is 18. Can I still see her school records?
If your child is 18 or older, you need your child’s permission to see her records. If your child is 18 or older, but still in school and you financially support her, you may see her school records without her permission. If your child is 18 years old and you have legal guardianship over her, you also can see her records. An example of when a parent may have legal guardianship over a child who is 18 years or older is when a child has significant physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities.
Can the school district decide not to let me see my child’s school records?
The only time the school district can deny you access to your child’s records is when there is a court order saying that you cannot see the records. If there is a court order, the school must notify you within five days after you ask to see the records that they will not let you see the records. You have the right to appeal the court order.
Am I allowed to add something to my child’s school records?
You have the right to add a statement to your child’s records. Your statement may explain what is already in the records or add something new that is relevant to their education. Your statement becomes part of your child’s school records, and anyone who sees the records will also see your statement.
If there is something in my child’s school records that I do not think should be there, what can I do?
If you think something in your child’s records is inaccurate, irrelevant, or improper, you have the right to ask the school principal to remove it from the records. If the principal refuses, you can write to the superintendent explaining your issue. The superintendent has 10 days to write you back saying whether s/he will change the records or not. If s/he does not agree to change the records, you can meet to discuss the issue with the superintendent or somebody the superintendent assigns to meet with you. If the issue is not resolved, you can appeal to the district board of education or to the Commissioner of Education within 10 days. If you appeal to the board of education and lose, you can still appeal to the Commissioner. If you are unsuccessful at removing the portion of the school records you do not agree with, you can write a statement to be included in the school records explaining your disagreement. This statement will become part of your child’s school record.
Can people see my child’s school records while I am in the middle of asking for something to be removed?
You can request an immediate stay of disclosure pending resolution of your issue. A stay of disclosure means that nobody else is permitted to see the records. To get a stay, you have to write to the superintendent, describing the specific issue regarding your child’s records and why you want a stay. Then, if necessary, you can appeal the same way described in the previous paragraph.
Are my child’s school records private?
Yes, the information in your child’s school records should be kept private. Schools must make sure that only certain people and organizations have access to your child’s school records.
Can the school give my child’s school records to other people without my permission?
In most situations, your child’s school records cannot be released to another person without your consent (permission) in writing. School employees who provide educational services do not need to get your consent prior to seeing your child’s school records. In addition, there are certain individuals and agencies that may be allowed to see your child’s school records without your consent. Some examples include other school districts where a child is placed, registered or seeks to enroll, and child protective services (DCP&P (formerly DYFS)).
What happens to my child’s school records when he changes school districts?
If your child changes school districts, the new school district must request your child’s school records from his old school district within two weeks of when he enrolled. Your child’s old school district does not need your consent to send the records, but it does have to send you written notice.
Call Legal Services of New Jersey's hotline if you have questions
If you have any questions about the information in this article or think that your rights or your child’s have been violated, contact LSNJLAWSM, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). If you are not eligible for assistance from Legal Services, the hotline will refer you to other possible resources.
This information last reviewed: Aug 11, 2017