Saturday, November 15, 2014

District claims FERPA violations isolated

The district is now running in damage control mode implying the latest illegal release of protected student information was an isolated incident, but I believe it to be chronic problem.

 Any parent/guardian who has fought the district while advocating for their child can tell you it's not easy. If you are going to file a citizens compliant, due process hearing request or Office of Civil Right compliant you usually need copies of student's educational records, special education compliance file and copies of district emails with attachments.  The first two are handled by the student records dept, but to get emails and other documents require you to make a public records request. You can obtain the student records usually in less then 10 days, but emails could take up to 90 days.

So fast forward to the delivery of documents in response to your public records request, you can expect records to come in two forms, either electronic or physical. Electronic forms are usually in PDF format, but I have also seen text or word docs. 

The district is suppose to redact any other students Personnel Identifiable Information (PII), they do this by blacking out the text electronically or on physical documents using white out to cover over text then sending you the photo copied version with the redacted text gone.

Over the last two years while advocating for my children I have received over 3,000 pages of information via public records request. Most of the documents are properly redacted,but occasionally
you will find other students information.

Here's a list of what I describe as FERPA violations I found in my public records request:
  •  Other students educational records embedded as an attachment in a PDF file. 
  • White out redacted emails that you could view the redacted text by holding the document up to light.
  • An email containing PII that was forwarded by a district employee to a non district person.
I have received such a large volume of  PDF  documents  that I have not been able to completely view all the embedded attachments, so it's possible there are even more FERPA violations.

So, what are your personal experiences with FERPA violations?

No comments:

Post a Comment