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School records are relevant when a child becomes involved in a court case for several reasons. Knowing the current status of a child’s progress in school is important information in determining a case plan. Maintaining continuity in studies when a child is experiencing disruptions in the home environment provides much needed stability. Studies have shown that educational success plays a critical role in improving outcomes for children in the juvenile court.

Educators and school officials adhere to a code of professional responsibility that includes maintaining the confidentiality of information concerning students obtained in the proper course of the educational process, and dispense such information only when required by federal or state law or professional practice.1 School administrators and staff are legally responsible for protecting students' information and using it only to better serve the educational needs of their students.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law providing the broadest legal protection for the confidentiality of a student's education records and related student information maintained by community agencies. Information contained in education records is confidential in order to protect the privacy of the individual child and the family and to prevent the inappropriate use of the information against the child.

FERPA does have several exceptions to its confidentiality provisions, in order to allow and promote collaboration between the professionals who are working together to ensure the child’s success in school.

Like many other privacy laws, FERPA permits disclosure with written consent of the parent or guardian, if the student is a minor, or consent of the student, if that student is over the age of majority. Disclosure of this information is also permitted to comply with a valid court order. For example, when considering what would be in a child’s best interests in a juvenile court case, the judge may seek information from the child’s school records or inquire about the child’s educational needs to better inform his or her decision. For more information, see Confidentiality Provisions of FERPA.

In addition to FERPA, there are also several state laws that govern the sharing of information from a student’s education record. Consistent with the federal requirements set forth in FERPA, Connecticut law provides that school records are presumed confidential and cannot be opened, copied or disclosed, except to a minor’s parent or guardian or upon their written request.2

Several other federal laws extend the confidentiality protections of FERPA to other specifically defined types of school-related information not included in FERPA. These are:

Pupil Protection Rights Amendment (PPRA)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act

Other areas of interest:

Students' On-Campus Criminal Conduct

School Discipline Records



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