General Information on State Statutes for Access To School and Medical Records
Statistics and life experiences clearly show that children do better in school when their fathers participate and take an interest in their schooling. Many non-custodial parents (NCP's) find, however, that the Custodial Parents (CP's) either fail to keep them informed or take steps to actually block their access to the schools.
The same goes for medical records. Doctors and school administrators, not wanting to be in the middle of a dispute, often go along with this. In many states this is illegal. These articles provide information on the Federal Statutes in regards to school and medical records and sample letters for requesting the records.
Individual states often have rules that are much more specific and more liberal in granting the non-custodial parent access to records. Realize that the statutes are only 1/2 of the law. The rest is contained in case law, which is why we always recommend that you get an attorney if possible.
Disclaimer: You are well-advised to consult with an attorney in your area and/or check your state's current statutes to verify this information. These materials re provided for informational purposes only and are not to be construed as legal advice. In some cases we have included the statutes specifically prohibiting access just so you will know what you are up against. That is not what we were looking for, so it's exclusion should not be construed to mean there is no such statute.
Special Note on letters and e-mails between the teacher or school and other parties:
Recently an incident occurred where we were asked by a concerned parent about obtaining copies of e-mails between the other parent and the teacher. In this case, the teacher had mentioned a number of e-mails but refused to discuss their content. They wanted to know if they could access these e-mails under FERPA. Our reply was in two parts, the first was on correspondence in general, whether it be letters, notes, or other documents. The second was additional thoughts on e-mail correspondence and school district policies.
We strongly suggest checking with an attorney or your school to verify that this information applies to your school district. Different school districts have different rules and guidelines, and although this should be valid in most instances, your school district may be different.
The only thing that can be excluded from the record is personal notes used by the teacher and never intended for viewing by any other person. Two party communications do not fall under that definition, since they are, by their very nature, meant to be viewed by others. Examine your state statutes to verify whether or not this is the case in your school district.
It's likely that the exception they are trying to use is "(1) Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary to those persons that are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record".
If you check the school district's e-mail policy, it almost certainly states specifically that e-mail received through the district is the property of the district and reserves the right of the school district to monitor employee e-mails, thus eliminating the "not accessible to any other person" requirement. That is in addition to the fact that this is a two party communication as mentioned before.