Washoe Country School District

August 21, 2014

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FERPA

Access to Student Educational Records – A Parental Guide Protecting the Privacy of Student Information

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Most information about Washoe County School District (WCSD) students cannot be made public without the consent of parents or guardians. Federal law prohibits schools or the district from releasing information without permission, except for what is termed "directory information" (defined below).

According to the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), directory information about students may be released by the district without parental consent, provided annual notification has been given and the school does not have on file written denial to release directory information; however, schools do use discretion when they receive requests for directory information and will not release such information if it is the principal's judgment that releasing such information would not be in the best interest of the student.

Parents and guardians or students 18 years of age or older who do NOT want directory information released must notify the school principal prior to October 1. A simple form has been created for this purpose and it is available at all high schools. This form allows for the information to be withheld from everyone, or just from military recruiters. If the form is not received by the school prior to October 1, the school and the district will assume that consent has been given.

Parents Right to Opt Out of Release of Student Information
Permiso para negar el permiso en dar información para el directorio de los estudiantes

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader software to download, view and print the FERPA files. If you don't have the plug-in, you can download it for FREE by clicking here.

The district's policies on access to student information are in compliance with FERPA and Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 392.029 of the 1997 legislative session.

What is general directory information?

Certain information is made available to most other individuals only with parental written permission. Activities such as awards, scholarships, college/technical school information and various school publications such as yearbooks and athletic programs, however, require the use of some general information about students. Such information is called general directory information. Examples of general directory information are:

  • name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address
  • date and place of birth, photographs
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • field of study
  • weight and height of athletes
  • enrollment status
  • degrees and awards received
  • dates of attendance
  • most recent previous school attended
  • grade level
  • grade point average range for college recruitement

Parents have the right to see any documents or materials directly related to their children that are kept within the school or Washoe County School District offices.

Who may obtain such information?

  • All parents and legal guardians. In the case of divorce, custodial and noncustodial parents have access to the child's record, unless a legally binding document declares differently;
  • Children over the age of 18, emancipated minors, or those attending post-secondary institutions;
  • School officials (including School Police), parent volunteers or researchers working with the District or Nevada Department of Education with a legitimate educational interest;
  • School officials in a district to which the child intends to transfer;
  • Individuals connected with a health or safety emergency;
  • Military recruiters;
  • Accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions;
  • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or received;
  • To state and local authorities pursuant to a State statute concerning the juvenile justice system and the system's ability to effectively serve the student whose records are being disclosed;
  • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the school making the disclosure for the purposes of administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs or improving instructions;
  • To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Agencies who are contracted with the school district to provide services such as picture day (click here to see a list);
  • A college or university to which a student has applied and intends to enroll;
  • In addition, two federal laws require local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with three directory information categories – names, addresses and telephone listings – unless parents (or students) have advised the LEA in writing by October 1st that they do not want their student's information disclosed without prior written consent.

May parents see results of tests given their child?

Parents have the right to review results from academic, standardized, or psychological tests. If the test itself is kept in the child's records, parents may look at it, if allowed by the NRS.

Can the school legally refuse to show parents any records?

Personal notes kept by a teacher, principal, psychologist, or other school employee for the sole use of that person are not considered part of the child's record. Such personal notes are not retained in the cumulative record.  Additionally, email is not considered part of the child's record if the email has not been printed and placed in the cumulative record.

May parents/guardian have copies of such information?

FERPA does not require that copies be provided to parents/guardians.  Copies shall be provided to the parent/guardian if he/sh is not reasonably able to view the records at the site; example, lives outside of the community, incarcerated or is disabled.

How do parents look at such information?

Ask! Schools will make an appointment for parents to review their child's educational records. Schools have forty-five (45) days to schedule the appointment, but most schools act immediately.

  • Parents have a right to an explanation of any forms, test scores, or educational language that they don't understand. If the principal or the appropriate school staff member is not available to answer questions, the parents should schedule a meeting in advance at a more appropriate time.
  • When asking to see their child's records, parents with limited English proficiency may ask the school to provide a translator for the meeting.

How can an individual obtain school records, if he/she is no longer enrolled in the WCSD?

  • The district requires written authorization of the parent to release student records if the student is under 18 years of age. After a former student is 18 years of age or older, records can be released only with his/her written consent.
  • The information needed to locate records shall include the student's legal name when enrolled in the Washoe County School District, date of birth, name of last Washoe County school attended and the last year of attendance.
  • Photocopy charges are $2.00 per health record, $5.00 per official transcript, $3.00 per unofficial transcript, and $.60 per page for other records.

What is the procedure for challenging school records?

Each parent has the right to challenge information in the records which is believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of a student's rights. The parent may request that information be amended or removed from the file.

  • A written request to change the record must be submitted to the principal at the school where the student is enrolled. The written request must indicate the challenged aspect of the record and specify why that aspect of the record is believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student's rights. Supporting evidence must be submitted with the written request.
  • The school principal and appropriate staff, as needed, determines whether or not to change the record.
  • Parents will be notified in writing of the decision. If the principal does not agree that the record needs to be changed, parents will be notified of their right to a hearing. The request for a hearing must be made within ten days of receipt of the letter.
  • If a district hearing is requested, the hearing officer will review and consider documented evidence about the record and render a ruling. The hearing officer's decision is final.
  • If the change to the record is denied, parents have the right to place a written statement in the record explaining the reasons for their disagreement.

What happens if my student's information is released?

  • If the release is due to a breach in security, then the incident is reported to the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C. and the parents are notified of the breach.
  • If the release is a FERPA violation, corrective action is taken and the incident is reported to the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C. and parents are notified of the corrective action and the release of information.

Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)

PPRA affords parents and eligible students certain rights regarding the district's conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. These include the right to inspect and consent or opt out of:

  • The administration of surveys that contain questions from one or more of eight protected areas:
    1. Political affiliations;
    2. Mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student and his/her family;
    3. Sex behavior and attitudes;
    4. Illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior;
    5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
    6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians and ministers;
    7. Religious practices, affiliations or beliefs; or
    8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
  • Activities involving the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the purpose of marketing.
  • Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening.

For additional information on PPRA or FERPA for students not in Special Education programs, please contact:

Dr. Bryn Lapenta, Senior Director
Student Accounting
Washoe County School District
425 East Ninth Street (location address)
P.O. Box 30425 (mailing address)
Reno, NV 89520-3425
Phone: (775) 325-2079

For additional information on FERPA for students who are in Special Education programs in the District, please contact:

Frank Selvaggio, Director
Student Support Services
Washoe County School District
380 Edison Way (location address)
P.O. Box 30435 (mailing address)
Reno, NV 89520-3425
Phone: (775)-861-4439

The state department

Nevada Department of Education
700 East Fifth Street
Carson City, Nevada 89710
Phone: (775) 687-9181

Parents/eligible students who believe their rights may have been violated may file a complaint by writing or phoning the Family Policy Compliance Office:

Family Policy and Compliance Office
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605
Phone: (202) 260-3887

For a copy of FERPA in English, click here.
For a copy of FERPA in Spanish, click here.