Regulations / Process
A student’s special education file is part of his or her temporary student record during the time that the student attends school and, as such, is subject to regulation under Massachusetts and federal student record and special education statutes. Although the temporary record can be given to a parent/student when the student graduates or withdraws from school, or when special education services are terminated for other reasons, often such records are needed to comply with state or federal audit requirements or for special education litigation.
Access to Records by Authorized School Personnel—Parents and Eligible Students:
Student records can be accessed by authorized school personnel, parents and eligible students (students who have reached the age of fourteen, and clerical personnel (for clerical purposes). School personnel should also be mindful of the fact that authorized school personnel exclude staff that provide no direct/indirect services to the student. Those persons are considered third parties and can only access student record information after receiving written consent from the parent or eligible student. Authorized school personnel include employees of educational collaboratives and other professional staff who are working with students under agreement between the school district and a service provider.
Teachers’ Personal Notes and Protocols:
Personal notes and logs maintained by school personnel may be considered as “personal” and are not subject to disclosure to the parent or student, so long as they are not shared with other school personnel. Once these reports are shared with other school personnel, they may become part of the student’s record. Personal files of school employees may be shared with a temporary substitute, without making the file part of the student record.
Except where regulations specifically authorize access by third parties, no individuals or organizations other than the parent, eligible student and school personnel working directly with the student are allowed to have access to information in the student record without the specific, informed, written consent of the parent or eligible student. Each special education file within the special education central office and the building based special education offices utilize a student’s temporary record log to document access to each student’s file.
Lunch Room or uninvolved colleague discussions of specific children is inappropriate. Parents/and/or other parties may overhear conversations in the Teacher’s Room, hallways or other areas of public access. As a result, when personnel are concerned about a child and need consultation, the school administrators or special education liaisons and team chairs will provide a forum for those discussions.
Authorized personnel, parents, eligible students and clerical personnel (for clerical purposes) may access student records. In divorce or separation situations, the parents generally share equally the right to their child’s record access, unless one parent presents the school with a court order prohibiting the other parent access. If you have questions about this process please contact the school principal.
Computerized and faxed records are subject to the same restrictions regarding confidentiality as any other form of student record.
Teacher and counselor recommendations are part of the student record and are subject to the same regulations in terms of disclosure as are all other parts of the student record unless the recommendation specifically provides that it shall remain confidential and the student agrees in writing.