Do you need parent consent to show student records to the local leader of the teachers’ association?

An Ohio teacher shared an audio recording of a parent-teacher conference with Ms. Lemon, the president of the local teacher union.  The recording included discussions of the student’s grades, attendance and classroom performance. Did the teacher violate FERPA?

Yes. So says the Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) in Letter to Bainter, on June 28, 2019. 

FERPA is built on two fundamental rules: 1) parents have access to their children’s educational records; and 2) parents must give consent before records can be disclosed to others. Those are the general rules, subject to multiple exceptions and clarifications.  The most common exception to the requirement of parent consent is the provision that permits disclosure of records to “school officials” who have a “legitimate educational interest” in the records.  Schools could hardly operate without that exception.

The Ohio teacher claimed that the union president was a “school official” with a “legitimate educational interest.” Nope.  SPPO noted that teacher unions “are independent, private legal entities that typically represent a specific teacher’s interest rather than perform a task for the educational agency or institution.”  Even though Ms. Lemon was a teacher in the district, disclosure to her was improper.  Key Quote:

While Ms. Lemon may also be a member of the school staff, disclosure of the audio recording to Ms. Lemon appears to have been in her capacity as LEA president and not any legitimate educational interest that Ms. Lemon may have in accessing the audio recording as a school official.

This has implications for ARD meetings. We will take that up tomorrow. We found this one on Special Ed Connection at 119 LRP 33047.


Tomorrow: What does this have to do with ARD meetings?