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Author Topic: FERPA  (Read 12837 times)

teacher98

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FERPA
« on: Sep 26, 2009, 06:54:29 PM »
Hey all.  question about FERPA.  How does it apply to Friday Folder type documents in elementary classrooms.  In previous years, my SS's teachers have been very willing to work with DH on providing him copies of everything in the Friday Folder.  He simply received a mailing with all papers from the Friday Folder. This year, the teacher feels this is a lot of extra work and the principal has intervened saying only report cards and general newsletters will be mailed.  Grades are available online, however, DH has previously received copies of tests and assignments in addition to using the online program, that way he can actually see an area of success or concern.  An online grade means nothing.  I have been searching online but cannot seem to find clear information on what is considered a "school record" under FERPA.  Some things say tests and assignments that get recorded in a grade book are.  Most of it has to do with college. We feel that whatever is sent to mom should also be sent to dad.  K-3 teachers had no problem, but now 4th grade does.  Any help would be appreciated.


gemini3

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #1 on: Sep 27, 2009, 09:35:01 AM »
We have had this issue every year.  Some teachers are just better about this than others.  Some principles are more on board than others as well.
 
FERPA, as I understand it, applies to school records.  While this definition is broad, most interpret this to mean attendance records, report cards, disciplinary actions, IEP's, school medical records, and directory information.
 
As for the other things, I can understand why, as a concerned parent, your husband would want to see how he is doing.  There are some things you can do to make it easier for the teacher to comply with your request.  Here's what we do:
 
1.  We always go to back-to-school nights, introduce ourselves to the teachers, and talk to them about the fact that the child has two homes (they are very used to this), and that you think it's really important that both parents are involved in the child's education.  They won't disagree with you.
 
2.  We provide the teachers with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for each week of the school year, and request that the teacher use that to send information.
 
3.  We talk to the office and give them a ream of paper, and ask that they send one extra copy of everything to the child's teacher to be sent home.  One of the biggest challenges the teachers have had is that they only get one copy per student.  This helps overcome that hurdle.
 
4.  Make sure that your custody order is on file with the child's school, and with the school board.
 
5.  Take a pro-active approach.  Every teacher has e-mail.  If you aren't gettting stuff back from the teacher, send her an e-mail (cc the principle) and inquire about the students progress.  Just say something nice like: 
 
"Mrs. So-So, we didn't receive anything from you last week regarding child, and I just wanted to check with you on his progress.  How is he doing?  Any successes or challenges that I should be aware of?  Are there any events - school picture, field trip's, etc. that I should be aware of?  Thanks for all you do!  Mr. Concerned Parent.
 
The teacher will most likely find it easier eventually to send the info than have to reply to your weekly e-mail. 
 
Also, if you're close enough where this is an option, you could offer to volunteer on field trips or other school events.  This helps the staff get to know you, and also makes them feel worse about not helping you out. 
 
Good luck!!

ocean

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #2 on: Sep 27, 2009, 10:03:51 AM »
The law covers report cards and whatever is in the child's perm record folder. The teacher is not required to photo copy all the child's work so you can see if because the parents can't get along. If the grades are on-line, then you can see them immediately anyway, better than you getting them mailed to you. If there is a failing grade, then you need to talk to your child and tell them to bring the test with them the next visit so you can go over it with them again.

What the other poster said is very true. Each teacher gets the exact number of copies of notices for the kids in their class. Most things are on their websites now and the teacher might even have a website. Check the district website too for upcoming events and the school calendar.

tjk

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #3 on: Sep 27, 2009, 11:28:30 AM »
It might help if you ask the teacher to send you just the copies of tests, or study sheets for upcoming tests on a weekly basis.  (Along with the notices of field trips, etc.) You would probably get alot more cooperation if the teacher doesn't have the hassle of having to copy every single classroom/homework assignment that the child does.   The tests will give you more detail than just a report card or online grade without burying the teacher in paperwork.

teacher98

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #4 on: Sep 27, 2009, 05:02:52 PM »
Thanks everyone!  DH always attends open house, conferences, etc.  He doesn't get a chance to volunteer due to work, but makes it to all of the dad "stuff."  With first grade, we provided the self addressed stamped envelopes.  2nd and 3rd grade teachers said it wasn't necessary. This teacher didn't even respond. She just passed the issue on to the principal who wrote DH an email saying it would be too difficult to provide him with everything, especially since his "visitation" wouldn't correspond with a poorly completed assignment, he wouldn't have it in a timely fashion.  (like he never speaks to his son on the phone mid-week) Needless to say, DH wasn't too thrilled that the principal's reasoning was based on his "visitation" He wanted to march right in there and say that it is his parenting time and in that time he PARENTS his son.  Telling SS to bring the low tests home to dad's is not an option. BM does not save anything from the folder and makes a big deal over DH having anything to do with SS schooling. Although, she does not do much to make sure he has homework turned in on time (or at all) and he rarely studies for tests.  SS struggles in school and the only reason he is as far as he is, it due to DH getting more involved during 1st grade. He knew someone was checking up on him. DH is trying to help SS become more independent and remember these things on his own, however, home at mom's is very unorganized and he is often  left to his own devices. Mom is pregnant and sleeps a lot.  DH requested tests and low grade assignments so he could be a support at our house.  He is going to schedule a meeting with the principal to discuss things face to face.  Just because FERPA doesn't require them to provide certain things, doesn't mean they shouldn't try to accommodate DH who is trying to be an involved parent despite this crummy situation.  Maybe offering the ream of paper and the envelopes this year would be helpful for this teacher.  All school and class info is online. We just want the assignments so they correlate with the online gradebook.  Thanks again!!


Kitty C.

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #5 on: Sep 27, 2009, 09:38:40 PM »
Then your DH needs to have a conversation with the principal AND teacher telling them exactly that (without pointing the finger at BM), telling them how involved he's been and he wishes it to continue that way and he has already seen the proof that it helps your SS tremendously.  It would be very difficult for them to say no.  Also, he can mention that the other 2 teachers whom he's already worked with would probably be more than happy to show the current teacher what you are requesting.    Put the onus on them and throw the ball back into their court, offer all the suggestions made here....in other words, make it damn difficult for them to say no!
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

Gunner Retired

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #6 on: Sep 28, 2009, 03:02:31 PM »
Heyas... discussing FERPA:

When you're dealing with local schools it's usually a simple matter of walking in and explaining who you are and what you're on about. Long distance schools are another matter and I would invite you consider initiating contact face to face.

In either case put in the time to research state laws discussing accessing your childrens school records, and also look up your childs school faculty members by name (Prinicpal, District School Board Pres, etc) and cite these on your letter requesting [ X ] Access to and [ X ] Copies of (and make these each a line item) any and all [ X ] Record(s), [ X ] Document(s), [ X ] Correspondance(s) [learn that little trick with the (s) at the end of each item(s)], etc discussing your childs school reporting and progress.

I have a nice copy of a FERPA letter that I will be delivering to my daughters school when I travel that way ... if anyone would like a sanitized copy feel free to email asking for it!

Gunner Retired
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and KITTENS DADDY!!!

ocean

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #7 on: Sep 28, 2009, 03:13:02 PM »
I agree that the teacher "should" do what it right but as they get older you will not see that. In my class last year, I had 7 kids whose parents are divorced. It got too difficult to make Friday folders so we went back to the "law" and only gave copies of report cards (and I slipped in picture day and trip forms). Our school has a website and most of the school stuff my principal posts so there is easy access. This year I only had one father ask for extra so I am able to manage one folder with the notices but I dont copy tests. It is mailed at the district expense every Fri to his house.

You can go see the principal but remember to state your case nicely and that you want to be involved as possible because they are not required to do it. I had some parents bring the stamps/envelopes and then the principal backed down and said that was not necessary.

The real issue is the CP who can't share the Friday folder and letters from school.

teacher98

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #8 on: Sep 28, 2009, 07:16:12 PM »
thanks again!  DH will kill them with kindness and unblock every obstacle to make it impossible to say no.  we will have to move on from there.  and ocean, you are right.  the real issue is BM's problem with DH being involved.  i am sure that if you go back and read earlier posts from me, you will see that it isn't very harmonious.  also, we are both highly educated people (master's degrees) and she jumps from program to program. wasn't a strong high school student and just always seems to be in "crisis" mode.  Overscheduled, unorganized, babies all of the time.  She never seems to know what is going on and SS suffers because of it. That is why DH has made a point to just get any information he can on his own.  He contacts coaches, teachers, and doctors because BM always conveniently "forgets" to let him know or simply makes a big deal about him being involved.  Just depends what mood she is in.  We are learning to beat her to the punches, however, this year is a bit more challenging.  You guys are a great support system.   

worriedinmd

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Re: FERPA
« Reply #9 on: Sep 28, 2009, 07:39:59 PM »
I am a divorced dad but also a teacher so I can see both sides of this story. I would say that it's a little ridiculous to expect a child's teacher to make a copy your child's every assignment so it can be sent to both of you since you can't get along. Almost half of the kids these days come from broken homes so the teacher would be spending at least an hour or two extra each week making copies of all these papers to mail to parents if every parent requested this. What has worked well for me is whichever parent has the child that day after school will look at the paper and help the child with what was wrong, then we will simply send that paper to the other parent's house so they have an opportunity to view it as well.

 

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