CAS Legal Mailbag Question each week – 6/16/15

CAS Legal Mailbag Question each week – 6/16/15

 

CAS Legal Mailbag Question each week – 6/16/15

Initially made an appearance within the CAS Weekly NewsBlast. Compiled by Attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

 

legal_mailbag_transparentDear Legal Mailbag:

I am just finishing up my first year as an assistant principal, and I hope that you can help me with an issue that has concerned me. Early in my tenure here, a paraprofessional asked to review the IEP for a student with whom she was working. I know that special education records are highly confidential under FERPA, and I asked the principal for guidance because I wanted to be sure of my answer. He told me that the paraprofessional was not entitled to see the IEP because she is not a certified teacher. When I got back to the paraprofessional with that response, she said “OKAY . . .” in an ominous way that was unsettling, and I have been wondering ever since whether we gave the right answer. Since the principal is retiring, I figure that I can now again ask the question; and, I will follow your advice next year, whatever it is.

Signed,

Haunted by Uncertainty

Dear Haunted:

Better late than never. You’re right the perfect education records are private, but all personally-identifiable student details are private under FERPA. The question for you is if the paraprofessional has the authority to begin to see the information in compliance with FERPA. The reply is yes, as lengthy as she’s the best educational curiosity about the data.

FERPA truly does provide that personally-identifiable student information (which obviously includes an IEP) is private, and the like information might not generally be disclosed without parent consent. However, the FERPA rules provide that school officials may review student records without first receiving parent consent whether they have “legitimate educational interests” within the information. Indeed, the rules even provide that contractors or volunteers might be considered “school officials” whether they have such interests. Clearly, then, a paraprofessional who’s working directly having a special education child will be a “school official” who wold possess a legitimate educational curiosity about seeing any area of the IEP which has information highly relevant to the paraprofessional’s responsibilities. It could have been proper that you should enable the paraprofessional to examine the student’s IEP. Indeed, it could have been advisable to do so.

 

Galvez

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