Thursday, November 20, 2014

Did SPS follow it's OWN FERPA policies ?

Is parental consent required for a school district to provide a due process hearing officer with a child’s pupil records?

No prior consent from the parent is required before the child’s pupil records are disclosed
directly or redisclosed through a school district’s attorney to a due process hearing officer.
However, the disclosure must occur in the course of the school district’s presentation of
evidence at the due process hearing, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department
of Education, Letter to Stadler (2/21/96).

This typically means the disclosure's "subject relevance" is tested and in this case SPS would fail the "subject relevance" test since the majority of the documentation was not relevant to the case nor was
it information the district was intending to use in it's defense and therefor should have NEVER been passed to the outside law firm.

How does a school district protect the confidentiality of information from pupil records of children with disabilities?

Each school district must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information
from pupil records at the collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction stages. One official
at each school district must assume responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality of pupil
records. All persons collecting or using information from pupil records must receive training
regarding policies and procedures relating to pupil records. Each school district must
maintain, for public inspection, a listing of names and positions of employees who may have
access to pupil records, 34 CFR 300.623
If any pupil record includes information on more than one student, the parents of those students have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their child or to be informed of that specific information, 34 CFR 300.615

Institutional Service Designation Criteria

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to “school officials with a legitimate educational interest.”
A “school official” has a legitimate educational interest in an education record if the official needs to review the record to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
FERPA defines “school official” to include “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions,” if the outside party:

  • ·         Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees;

  • ·         Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records;

  • ·         Is prohibited from using personally identifiable information from education records for any purpose other than to provide the institutional service; and

  • ·         Is prohibited from re-disclosing personally identifiable information from education records 
 As read " Is prohibited from re-disclosing personally identifiable information from education records" means the law firm of Preg O’Donnell & Gillett is not allowed to forward or re-disclose the information.

The person who received the documents says in his letter "that he brought the issue to the district’s attention a few weeks ago when he’d received a few documents with sensitive information, but nothing was done and the law firm then emailed a much larger batch."
If the District was notified weeks earlier of another problem like this and did nothing, then that’s on them as well as the law firm.

Below is the standard release SPS should send out to parents if your students information is requested by a third party or agent of SPS.

Dear <<PARENT NAME(S)>>,
Consent to Release Education Records forms from the Seattle Public Schools are attached. By signing these forms, you are granting the School District permission to share your student’s academic information with <<<ORGANIZATION>>. <<ORGANIZATION>> uses your student’s information to ensure that your student is receiving the best possible services in our program, and to monitor and improve our program’s effectiveness for all students. Seattle Public Schools has two mechanisms for sharing your student’s information, and two separate consent forms. These are explained below:
·         The Source: The Source is the Seattle Public Schools’ web-based communication and collaboration tool. <<ORGANIZATION>> uses The Source to monitor your student’s academic program and progress. The attached form allows the <<ORGANIZATION>> program staff member who is working with your student to login to The Source during the 2013-2014 school year.  This keeps the staff member informed about your student’s current school attendance, homework assignments, grades, and test scores, and helps the staff member to connect his or her work to your student’s experiences during the school day.
·         Automated Data Report (ADR): Like The Source, the ADR helps <<ORGANIZATION>> design programming to meet your student’s academic needs. By looking at your student’s progress over time, we can better understand how our program activities affect their success in school. The attached form allows <<ORGANIZATION>>’s program administrator to receive an automated report showing your student’s enrollment, performance, attendance, and discipline history alongside that of other students in <<ORGANIZATION>>’s program.
Seattle Public Schools and <<ORGANIZATION>> take your student’s privacy very seriously. Your student’s information will not be shared with anyone other than those named on the attached consent forms, and will be destroyed by <<ORGANIZATION>> after one year.
We thank you for partnering with Seattle Public Schools and <<ORGANIZATION>> to support your student’s success.

It is possible a child in SPS or parent is being protected and a release of this type could place them in danger.

Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft is rampant in the United States.  Survivors of domestic violence must take extra precautions to proect themselves from abusers who use identity as a means of power and control.  Abusers may use survivors' credit cards without their permission, open fradulent new credit cards in survivors' names (ultimately ruining their credit) or open credit cards in children's names.  Misuse of survivors' social security numbers is also common in the context of domestic violence.  Abusers may fradulently use survivors' social security numbers to stalk, harass or threaten survivors.  Read more to learn how to protect yourself if you are experiencing this type of abuse.
Survivors experiencing abuse should contact their local domestic violence program for immediate support.  Check your local yellow pages or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (operated by the Texas Council on Family Violence) at 1-800-799-SAFE to be connected to the program in your area.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Identity
¨     Relocate.  Moving across town, across the state or across the country puts physical distance between you and the abuser.  Be sure to obtain an unlisted phone number and be aware of the Full Faith and Credit provisions in your restraining order, which make the order valid when you travel to another state or tribal jurisdiction.
¨     Apply to the address confidentiality program in your state.  These types of programs allow individuals who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other types of crime to receive mail at a confidential address, while keeping their actual address undisclosed.  Rules and eligibility vary from state to state.  Click here to see a list of address confidentiality programs in states across the country.
¨     Open a post office box to receive mail.  Abusers may be able to open fraudulent credit cards by responding to credit card offers received in the mail.  A post office box may prevent this if only you have access to it.  Be wary of the confidentiality policies of non-government post office box centers such as Mail Boxes, Etc…and the fact that it may not be possible to remain anonymous in rural towns while accessing the post office.
¨     Protect your incoming and outgoing mail.  Shred all credit card offers that come in the mail along with other documents that have your name, address and/or social security number on them.  Mail bills and other sensitive documents directly from the post office instead of from the mailbox on your porch or at the end of your driveway.  Call 1-800-5OPT-OUT to stop receiving credit card offers in the mail.
¨     Guard your social security number.  Do not use your social security number as a general ID, PIN or password.  Request to have your social security number removed from documents you receive in the mail and ID cards for health insurance, driving, work, etc…  Click here to read about changing your social security number.
¨     Check your credit report.  The best way to determine if someone has committed fraud against you is to check your credit report with all three credit bureaus at least once per year.  Visit to obtain a free yearly credit report.  You can also make a request to have a fraud alert placed on your credit report.  Click here to find out how to contact the credit bureaus.
¨     Report suspected fraud.  Contact local law enforcement if you know of or suspect fraud and ask to file a report.  Check and/or close accounts you believe have been tampered.  File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT and the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.  File copies of police reports with credit bureaus. 
¨     Protect information you give out.  Never give any identifying information over the phone or through email or the internet unless you initiated the call or have verification that the website or email communication is secure.

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