Schools are Required to Provide Access to Education Records Prior to IEP Meetings

Parents have the right to access their child’s education record in advance of IEP meetings.

This access is key to ensuring parents are able to meaningfully participate during IEP meetings and provide informed consent (or refusal) to a school’s proposal/s.

Access to education records, meaningful participation, and informed consent are three rights afforded to parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

What are Education Records?

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), specifically under § 99.3, education records are records that are:

(1) Directly related to a student; and

(2) Maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

This includes, but is not limited to report cards, evaluations, classwork, homework, emails, text messages, voice messages, audio recordings, videos, and so on.

Access to Education Records

Sec. 300.613 of IDEA states:

(a) Each participating agency must permit parents to inspect and review any education records relating to their children that are collected, maintained, or used by the agency under this part. The agency must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP, or any hearing pursuant to §300.507 or §§300.530 through 300.532, or resolution session pursuant to §300.510, and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made.

(b) The right to inspect and review education records under this section includes—

(1) The right to a response from the participating agency to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records;

(2) The right to request that the agency provide copies of the records containing the information if failure to provide those copies would effectively prevent the parent from exercising the right to inspect and review the records; and

(3) The right to have a representative of the parent inspect and review the records.

(c) An agency may presume that the parent has authority to inspect and review records relating to his or her child unless the agency has been advised that the parent does not have the authority under applicable State law governing such matters as guardianship, separation, and divorce.

How Do I Request Education Records?

Who do I contact?

In my case, I contact the principal of the school and the FOIA officer for the school district. In your case, contact your school and ask for the contact information for whomever handles FERPA requests. If you aren’t provided an answer, start with the principal.

What do I write?

I state my name and the name of my child. Before the school district got to know me, I stated the name of the school at which my child attended and my relationship to my child.

Parents starting out might consider the above or a variation, depending on where they are in the process.

What do I request?

State what you want. Do you want everything? Just classwork samples? Teacher reports?

The following is a sample request:


I’m contacting you to request access to INSERT STUDENT’S NAME education records. INSERT STUDENT’S NAME is my INSERT YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO STUDENT and is in X grade at INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL. This should include, but not be limited to, all classwork, homework, evaluations, assessments, progress reports, teacher reports, emails, text messages, voice messages, recordings of IEP meetings, audio recordings, video recordings, emails, records kept in all district offices (such as the due process and eligibility office), and all records not mentioned herein that directly relate to INSERT STUDENT’S NAME.

Pursuant to Sec. 300.613, I have a right to access these records in advance of our next IEP meeting. The scheduled date for that meeting is INSERT DATE HERE. I need INSERT TIME FRAME HERE days in advance of the IEP meeting to review the records. My ability to participate meaningfully and provide informed consent hinges on my ability to review everything available in advance of the meeting.

I look forward to receiving a response and obtaining access in advance of the IEP meeting.

If you have any questions, please let me know.


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