WHT Law

Student Records in Illinois

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Collection, Maintenance, Inspection and Dissemination of Student Educational Records for Regular and Special Education Students

CAVEAT:  A school student records policy must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Illinois Student Records Act, and all regulations issued pursuant to such Acts and the rules of the Illinois State Board of Education.  This document is an overview of the required contents of a school student records policy and compliance with the requirements stated herein may not satisfy all applicable laws.  Therefore, it is advised that a school district consult an attorney before adopting a given student records policy.

NOTIFICATION

Upon initial enrollment or transfer of a student to the school, the school shall notify the student and the student’s parents of their rights under the Illinois School Student Records Act, the Regulations thereto and the policies stated herein.

OFFICIAL STUDENT RECORDS CUSTODIAN

Each school shall designate an official records custodian who is responsible for the maintenance, care and security of all school student records, whether or not such student records are in his personal custody or control.

The official records custodian shall take all reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized access to or dissemination of school student records.

MAINTENANCE OF PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY RECORDS

Information contained in or added to a school student record shall be limited to information which is of clear relevance to the education of the student.  Information added to a school student record shall include the name, signature and position of the person who has added such information and date of its entry into the record.

Each school shall maintain student permanent records and the information contained therein for not less than 60 years after the student has transferred, graduated or otherwise permanently withdrawn from school.

No school shall maintain any student temporary record or the information contained therein beyond its period of usefulness to the student and the school, and in no case longer than 5 years after the student has transferred, graduated or otherwise permanently withdrawn from the school.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, a school may maintain indefinitely anonymous information from student temporary records for authorized research, statistical reporting or planning purposes, provided that no student or parent can be individually identified from the information maintained.

The principal of each school or the person with like responsibilities or his or her designate shall periodically review each student temporary record for verification of entries and elimination or correction of all inaccurate, misleading, unnecessary or irrelevant information.  Student records shall be reviewed every four years or upon a student’s change in attendance centers, whichever occurs first, to verify entries and to eliminate or correct all out-of-date, misleading, inaccurate, unnecessary or irrelevant information.

Upon graduation, transfer or permanent of a handicapped student as defined in the School Code and 23 111.  Adm.  Code § 226, Subpart A (Special Education), psychological  evaluations, special education files and other information contained in the student temporary record which may be of continued assistance to the student may, after five years, be transferred to the custody of the parent or to the student if the student has succeeded to the rights of the parents.  The school shall explain to the student and the parent the future usefulness of these records.

Before any school record is destroyed or information deleted therefrom, the parent shall be given reasonable prior notice in accordance with regulations adopted by the State Board and an opportunity to copy the record and the information proposed to be destroyed or deleted.

RIGHT TO INSPECT RECORDS

A parent or any person specifically designated as a representative by a parent shall have the right to inspect and copy all school student permanent and temporary records of that parent’s child.  A student shall have the right to inspect and copy his or her school student permanent record.

Whenever access to any person is granted, at the option of either the parent or the school, a qualified professional, who may be a psychologist, counselor or other advisor, and who may be an employee of the school or employed by the parent, may be present to interpret information contained in the student temporary record.

A parent’s or student’s request to inspect and copy records, or to allow a specifically designated representative to inspect and copy records, must be granted within a reasonable time, and in no case later than 15 school days after the date of receipt of such request by the official records custodian.

The school may charge its reasonable costs for the copying of school student records, not to exceed $.35 per page.

DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS

No school student records or information contained therein may be released, transferred, disclosed or otherwise disseminated, except as follows:

  1. To a parent or student or person specifically designated as a representative by a parent;
  2. To an employee or official of the school or school district or State Board with current demonstrable educational or administrative interest in the student in furtherance of such interest;
  3. To the official records custodian of another school within Illinois or an official with similar responsibilities of a school outside Illinois, in which the student has enrolled, or intends to enroll, upon the request of such official or student;
  4. To any person for the purpose of research, statistical reporting or planning, provided that no student or parent can be identified from the information released and the person to whom the information is released signs an affidavit agreeing to comply with all applicable statutes and rules pertaining to school student records;
  5. Pursuant to court order, provided that the parent shall be given prompt written notice upon receipt of such order of the terms of the order, the nature and substance of the information proposed to be released in compliance with such order and an opportunity to inspect and copy the school student record and to challenge their contents pursuant to the procedures set forth in 105 ILCS 10/7;
  6. To any person as specifically required by State or federal law;
  7. Subject to regulations of the State Board and to 23 Ill.Adm.Code §375.60 (1996), in connection with an emergency, to appropriate persons if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons; or
  8. To any person, with prior specific dated written consent of the parent designating the person to whom the records may be released, provided that at the time any such consent is requested or obtained, the parent shall be advised in writing that he has the right to inspect or copy such records in accordance with 105 ILCS 1015, to challenge their contents in accordance with the procedures set forth at 105 ILCS 10/7, and to limit any such consent to designated records or designated portions of the information contained therein.

RELEASE OF RECORDS

No information may be released pursuant to paragraphs (3) or (6) unless the parent receives prior written notice of the nature and substance of the information proposed to be released, and an opportunity to inspect and copy such records in accordance with 105 ILCS 10/5 and to challenge their contents in accordance with 105 ILCS 10/7.

A record of any release of information pursuant to this Section must be made and kept as a part of the school student record and subject to the access granted herein.

A record of any release of information must be made and kept as a part of the school student record and subject to the access granted by 105 ILCS 101/5.  Such record of release shall be maintained for the life of the school student records and shall be available only to the parent and the official records custodian.  Each record of release shall also include:

  1. The nature and substance of the information released;
  2. The name and signature of the official records custodian releasing such information;
  3. The name of the person requesting such information, the capacity in which such a request has been made, and the purpose of such request;
  4. The date of the release; and
  5. A copy of any consent to such release.

The school shall grant access to, or release information from, school student records without parental consent or notification:

  1. To an employee or official of the school or school district or the state board of education, provided such employee or official has a current demonstrable educational or administrative interest in the student and the records are in furtherance of such interest;
  2. To any person for the purpose of research, statistical reporting, or planning, provided that no student or parent can be identified from the information released and the person to whom the information is released signs an affidavit agreeing to comply with all applicable statutes and rules pertaining to school student records.

PROCEDURE FOR CHALLENGE TO RECORDS

Parents shall have the right to challenge the accuracy, relevance or propriety of any entry in the school student records, exclusive of (I)academic grades of their child and (ii) references to expulsions or out-of-school suspensions, if the challenge is made at the time the student’s school student records are forwarded to another school to which the student is transferring.  Parents shall be notified of their right to a hearing challenging entries made in the school student records.

The request for a hearing shall be submitted in writing to the school and shall contain notice of the specific entry or entries to be challenged and the basis for the challenge.

Each school shall establish administrative procedures for parents to challenge the contents of student records.  Such procedures shall include:

  • An initial informal conference with the parents, within 15 school days of receipt of the request for a hearing.
  • If the challenge is not resolved by the informal conference, formal procedures shall be initiated.
  • A hearing officer, who shall not be employed in the attendance center in which the student is enrolled, shall be appointed by the school.
  • The hearing officer shall conduct a hearing within a reasonable time, but no later than 15 days after the informal conference, unless an extension of time is agreed upon by the parents and school officials.  The hearing officer shall notify parents and school officials of the time and place of the hearing.

The challenging procedures shall provide for a hearing at which each party shall have:

  1. The right to present evidence and to call witnesses;
  2. The right to cross-examine witnesses;
  3. The right to counsel;
  4. The right to a written statement of any decision and the reasons therefor;
  5. The right to appeal an adverse decision to an administrative tribunal or official to be established or designated by the State Board;

A verbatim record of the hearing shall be made by a tape recorder or a court reporter.  A typewritten transcript may be prepared by either party in the event of an appeal of the hearing officer’s decision.  However, a typewritten transcript is not required in an appeal.

The written decision of the hearing officer shall, no later than 10 school days after the conclusion of the hearing, be transmitted to the parents and the school district.  It shall be based solely on the information presented at the hearing and shall be one of the following:

  1. To retain the challenged contents of the student record;
  2. To remove the challenged contents of the student record; or
  3. To change, clarify or add to the challenged contents of the student record.

Any party shall have the right to appeal the decision of the local hearing officer to the Regional Superintendent within 20 school days after such decision is transmitted.  If the parent appeals, the parent shall so inform the school and within 10 school days the school shall forward a transcript of the hearing, a copy of the record entry in question and any other pertinent materials to the Regional Superintendent.  The school may initiate an appeal by the same procedures.  Upon receipt of such documents, the Regional Superintendent shall examine the documents and record to determine whether the school district’s proposed action in regard to the student’s record is in compliance with applicable law, make findings and issue a written decision to the parents within 20 school days of the receipt of the appeal documents.  If the subject of the appeal involves accuracy, relevancy or propriety of any entry in special education records, the Regional Superintendent should seek advice from special education personnel.

A final decision under the procedures established pursuant to 105 ILCS 10/7 may be appealed to the Circuit Court of the County in which the school is located.

Parents shall also have the right to insert in their child’s school student record a statement of reasonable length setting forth their position on any disputed information contained in that record.  The school shall include a copy of such statement in any subsequent dissemination of the information in dispute.