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How Do I Request My Child’s School Records?

The Individuals with Education Act (IDEA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are federal laws allowing you to review your child’s education records. The U.S. Department of Education published a helpful parent guide to FERPA. It’s important to review your child’s education records periodically. The most important reason to check their records is to confirm their accuracy. Your child’s school uses your child’s records to make educational decisions. If records are out of date, your child could miss out on educational opportunities or services. Another reason to check their records is to ensure they are current. Finally, reviewing their records helps you advocate for your child during IEP meetings especially if their records reflect that they need additional support or services.

What Types of Records Can I Review?

According to FERPA, an education record is any record directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency, institution, or party acting for the agency. Academic records include but aren’t limited to grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, health records (K-12), student financial information (post-secondary), and student discipline files. In addition, documents can include handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and email. 

Your child’s school must comply with your request within a reasonable time, but not more than 45 calendar days after receiving your request. Your child’s school isn’t allowed to charge a fee for searching or retrieving records. However, they can charge a fee for copying documents. Therefore, you can request your child’s school to waive copy charges.

You can request emails between staff if you have concerns about predetermination or retaliation. However, you may get pushback from your child’s school, claiming that emails aren’t releasable. You can review the FERPA guidance on two cases, Baker and Husk, that provide helpful information on requesting emails. If the school refuses to provide you copies of emails, you can file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as they are considered public records.

You can request copies of your child’s records until they turn 18 or attend college. After that, your child must ask for their own records. If you don’t understand the documents, the school must explain them to you. Your state laws may also provide additional rights. I recommend reviewing your state’s Parent Training and Information Center to review your state laws. 

What if My Child's Record is Inaccurate?

You can request your child’s school to correct any record that you believe is inaccurate or misleading. I recommend asking your school to make the changes first to allow them to remove or correct the information. You can request a formal hearing if the school refuses to remove the information. If you request a formal hearing, ask for the hearing in writing. I recommend sending a copy via certified mail that includes a signature card and return receipt. Remember to keep a copy of your request for your records.  

A hearing officer without direct interest in the result of your case is appointed to conduct the hearing between you and school professionals. You also have the right to have an attorney or advocate attend to assist or represent you at the hearing. If the school refuses to amend the incorrect information after the hearing, you can include a statement with the document that explains your point of view about the contested information. Your statement will remain attached to the record as long the school keeps it in your child’s file.

If your child’s school doesn’t provide access to your child’s records, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. You must file your complaint within 180 days of the alleged violation or of the date you knew or reasonably should have known of the suspected violation. You can send your FERPA complaint to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Office, Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201-4605. Their office phone number is (202) 260-3887.

Use the template below to request your child’s education records. Ask your child’s school to change any incorrect information. If you need assistance, look up your state’s Center for Parent Information and Resources to find the contact information and website for your state’s Parent Center. You are your child’s most influential advocate. Routinely reviewing their education records will help you continue to advocate for your child. Don’t ever apologize for supporting your child. They need you to continue to advocate for their rights to help them continue to receive services and supports to help them thrive.

Sample Letter

Today’s Date (include Month, day, and year)

Your name

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Name of Person You are Writing (Your child’s special education director, School District, or Charter School)


Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Re: FERPA Request for all of my child’s educational records

Dear (Name of Special Education Director),

I am writing to request a complete copy of my (child’s name) records. My son/daughter (child’s name) is in the (list their grade) grade at (name of school), in (teacher’s name) class. Therefore, I am requesting all of my child’s records, including but not limited to the cumulative file, confidential file, and compliance file. In addition, please include all reports and documents generated by the school and district personnel and outside sources, as well as all confidential medical, psychological, regular education, special education, and other documents within the district’s possession. I am requesting this according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Please mail a copy of all personally identifiable records regarding my (son/daughter) to me at (your address). I request that you waive copy fees to allow me access to my child’s records. 

If you have any questions about my request, please email or call me at (your email and phone number). Thank you.


(Your Name)

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