Parent brings an advocate to the ARD meeting. What’s the first thing to do?

Yesterday I told you about a ruling from the SPPO that a teacher violated FERPA by disclosing student records to a union representative without parent consent.   This brings up today’s topic: the parent bringing an advocate to an ARD. What to do?

The first thing to do is to say “Welcome! Can we get you a bottle of water?  Cup of coffee?”

But the second thing to do is to make sure that you have parent consent to disclose records to this person.  You cannot have an ARD meeting without disclosing information from educational records of the student.  The school staff who attend the meeting can have access to those records without parent consent because they are “school officials” with a “legitimate educational interest.”  But the lawyer or advocate or friend of the family who accompanies the parent does not fit that category.  Therefore, records cannot be disclosed without parent consent.

I can hear your objections: “But, Dawg, the parent is BRINGING them to the meeting! Obviously, the parent is OK with it!!” 

I agree. That’s why you never hear of a FERPA complaint about this.  Nevertheless, FERPA requires that the consent be in writing.  It’s not a hard thing to ask the parent to sign a simple statement permitting the disclosure of records to the person they are bringing to the meeting.  I think that might send a message to the parent that you take confidentiality regulations seriously.

So put that one in the FWIW category.  Have a good weekend, Readers!