Transferring School Disciplinary Records under FERPA

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss how the transfer of school disciplinary records is influenced or impacted by FERPA and provide examples of ways to transfer these records.

Transferring Records

One of the legitimate educational reasons a school may have to disclose student records is when that student is transferring to another school. Along with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and No Child Left Behind Act provide provisions that states develop a procedure to transfer and facilitate these disciplinary records regarding expulsion or suspension as well as other disciplinary infractions. Because schools have a legitimate educational reason for having full access to a student's record, these disciplinary records must be included even without the student's or parent's consent in the interest of protecting the new school.

Parent Access

Usually a parent has access to educational records to include disciplinary records if the student is a dependent under the age of 18. Some students are considered eligible students under FERPA, meaning they are considered adults because they are over 18, are college students and/or are not claimed as dependents on a parent's tax return. Their parents may not access those records without the student's consent, even if they are assisting the student in the transfer process. One of the exceptions to this rule regards a student's disciplinary history. If an eligible student over age 18 is a dependent on their parents' or guardians' tax return, then those parents and guardians can access disciplinary records even without the student's consent.

Another reason that parents may be allowed to access records of adult students is through their disciplinary records. Parents of eligible students who have broken a federal, state or local law or who have violated any rules or policies of the institution may also access these disciplinary records without the consent of the adult student. When a student is found in possession of a controlled substance or is using alcohol under the age 21 at the time, parents may also access those disciplinary records without the consent of the adult student. When a parent is assisting a student with the transfer into a new school, they may be notified of these disciplinary infractions that may prevent the new school from accepting their enrollment.

New School

If the student enrolls or intends to enroll in a new school, that school has the right to access those disciplinary records without consent. The former school can continue to send disciplinary records to the new school even after the student has already enrolled in the new school. Even if the student has not yet enrolled but seeks or intends to enroll in a new school, that new school has the right to access those student disciplinary records without consent of the student. The former school may continue to send educational records to the new school. The new school will have access to the records held by the former school into the future, as long as disclosure of those records is related to the purpose of transferring that student into the new school.

Unless an adult student violates a law or is involved with drinking or drugs, parents may not know about disciplinary records of eligible students.

For example, a student who is moving can begin the school transfer and enrollment process with the new school. Let's say their paperwork has been received by the new school, and they have been accepted for enrollment. A couple weeks before moving day, the student commits a serious disciplinary infraction that is included in their record. Even though that student has already been accepted or has transferred into the new school, the soon-to-be former school has the right to submit those records of the recent infraction to that new school.

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