Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Parental Access to School Records

The Senate last week approved S.2206, An Act Relative to Student Records, which will ease non-custodial parents' access to children's school records by amending c.71, s.34H. A report in Monday's Milford Daily News says, "Massachusetts is the only state in the country in violation of a federal law granting parents who do not have custody of their kids the right to "inspect and review their children’s education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)," according to the U.S. Department of Education." "Under Massachusetts law, a parent without legal custody of their child must submit to the child’s school principal a court order which proves the parent has not been denied custody "based on a threat to the safety of the child or the custodial parent." Only then can the noncustodial parent be granted access by the principal, and must reapply for access each year. However, federal law dictates that both parents have equal access to their child’s records unless the school is shown a court order specifically revoking the noncustodial parent’s access for reasons such as abuse of the child or custodial parent. " The Department of Education adopted emergency regulations, Access by Non-Custodial Parents, 603 CMR 23.07(5), to bring the state into compliance with the federal law until the state law is amended. More information is available at Mass. Law About Student Records.