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PROCEDURES FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION RECORDS

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Types of Procedures

Accessing Records

Parent(s) and age of majority students (see note) have the right to access, review, and inspect records. This includes:

  • The right to a response from the district or AEA to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records
  • The right to request that the district or AEA provide copies of the records if failure to do so would effectively prevent the parent from being able to inspect and review the records
  • The right to have a representative of the parent inspect and review the records

An AEA or LEA must respond to the parent’s request to inspect and review the records within 45 days of the request. Requests (per phone or in person) to access records should be made during normal business hours of the AEA or LEA.

NOTE: At age 18, students are considered to have reached the “Age of Majority” and the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student. The student, however, cannot deny parental access to educational information if the parent declares the child as a dependent on his/her income tax return. It shall be presumed that a student who has not graduated from high school is a dependent of his or her parents until such time as satisfactory evidence to the contrary is presented to AEA or school officials.

An AEA or LEA may presume that the parent(s) has the authority to inspect and review records relating to the parent’s student unless the agency has been advised that the parent(s) does not have the authority under applicable state law governing such matters as guardianship, separation, and divorce.

The burden of proof is on the parent who asserts that the other parent does not have records rights to provide proof (i.e., the judicial decree) showing the court has removed the other parent’s access right.

The LEA and the AEA shall notify parent(s) and eligible students annually of their right to view their student’s records. The notice shall be given in a parent’s or eligible student’s native language.

If any education record includes information on more than one student, the parent(s) shall have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their student or to be informed of that specific information.

An AEA or LEA may charge a fee for copies of records, but shall be waived if the fee would prevent the parent(s) or student from exercising their right to inspect and review the records within 45 days of the request. However, an AEA or LEA shall not be charged a fee to search for or to retrieve information.

Upon parent(s) or eligible student request, school districts and AEAs must:

  • Provide a list of the types and locations of education records collected, maintained and used by the district or agency
  • Identify all types of student records collected, maintained and used by the district, not just the special education records

FERPA requires that AEAs and schools use reasonable methods to ensure that district and AEA personnel obtain access to only those education records in which they have legitimate educational interests.

Maintaining Records

Both LEAs and AEAs are responsible for maintaining special education records for eligible individuals, as well as for adhering to FERPA, IDEA, and Iowa Rules regarding confidentiality. AEA support staff shall assist school districts in ensuring that student records are complete.

Personally identifiable information (PII) must be maintained as long as it is needed to provide educational services to the student or to be available for audit. Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education specify that special education records must be maintained for five years after special education services end.

Best Practice Suggestions for LEAs:

  • Maintain special education records separate from a student’s permanent and cumulative records and in a locked or secure location
  • Maintain special education records of currently-served students in a locked or secure location (e.g., password-protected computer) in a special educators’ classroom or workspace

AEAs are required to maintain individual special education records in a locked or secure location.

At a minimum, the AEA maintains the following special education records:

  • Consents: Full and Individual Initial Evaluation, Initial Special Education and/or Related Services, Reevaluation
  • Notices: Meeting Notices, Agreement to Excuse Attendance at IEP Meeting, Prior Written Notices
  • Educational Evaluation Reports (EERs)
  • Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Individualized Family Services Plans (IFSPs)
  • Early Childhood Outcomes Summary
  • Extended School Year (ESY) Services
  • Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
  • Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
  • Manifestation Determination (MD)
  • Justification for Special School Placement
  • Communication Plan for Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing
  • Authorization for Exchange of Information and Release of Health and/or Educational Information
  • Parent Consent/Parent Refusal or Withdrawal of Consent for an AEA  To Share Data and Seek Payment for Individualized Education Program (IEP) Health-Related Services
  • Assessment protocols
    • NOTE: Under Section 504, a student’s test protocols are considered “relevant records” to which parents must be afforded access, regardless of whether they are education records within the meaning of the IDEA.
  • Progress or therapy notes (excluding sole possession records)
  • Any correspondence meeting the definition of a special education record

Any electronic records (databases, video recordings, emails, etc.) that meet the definition of a special education record or that contain information derived from any or all of the above records are also considered to be special education records and will be maintained by the AEA.

Destroying Records

LEAs and AEAs are allowed to destroy personally identifiable information (PII) at the point it is no longer needed to provide educational services to the student or for audit purposes (e.g., Medicaid records). Per the Iowa Administrative Rules, special education records must be maintained for five years after special education services end for a student.

AEAs and LEAs shall notify the parent(s) and age of majority students when special education records are no longer needed.

Parent(s) and eligible students have the right to request that records be destroyed when no longer needed by the AEA/LEA. This right applies to the period of time, if any, between the point in time that the AEA/LEA has communicated that records are no longer needed and the point in time when actual destruction would occur.

In the absence of the parent(s) or age of majority student’s request to destroy the records, an AEA or district may maintain the records indefinitely.

Maintaining Permanent Student Records

AEAs will maintain only those records required as “permanent” after the point in time when parents and eligible students have been informed that the records are no longer needed( 5 yrs after special education serves end).

The AEA’s permanent record must include:

  • A student’s name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Dates of AEA and/or LEA special education service(s)
  • Grade or age level and date of final exit from special education service

School districts (LEAs) are required to maintain a permanent record that serves as a student’s official transcript, including evidence of attendance and educational progress. 

The LEA’s permanent record must include:

  • A student’s name
  • Address
  •  Phone number
  • Student’s grades
  • Attendance record
  • Classes attended
  • Grade level and year completed

Handling Requests to Change Records

If the parent(s) or the age of majority student believes the information in a record is inaccurate, misleading, violates the privacy, or other rights of the student, they may request the agency to amend the information.

The agency shall decide whether to amend the information in accordance with a request within a reasonable period of time following receipt of the request from the parent(s) or the age of majority student.

If the agency refuses to amend the records, the agency must inform the parent(s) of its refusal and advise the parent of their right to a hearing. The parent(s) or the age of majority student shall have a right to appeal the agency’s decision and shall have an administrative hearing at the agency level.

A local hearing shall be conducted according to AEA policy and administrative procedures:

  • If the agency determines, as a result of a hearing, that an amendment shall be made to the student’s records, the agency shall make the amendment and so inform the parent in writing.
  • If the parent’s request to amend the records is denied as a result of a hearing, the parent shall have the opportunity to place an explanatory statement in the student’s records commenting on the agency’s decision and setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the agency. The agency shall maintain the parent’s explanation as part of the records of the student as long as the record or contested portion is maintained by the agency. If the record of the student or the contested portion is disclosed by the agency to any party, the explanation shall also be disclosed to the party.