Are there any Florida laws that address parental access to a child's school records?

Understanding Parental Rights Concerning School Records in Florida

In Florida, the rights of parents to access their children's school records are protected by law. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that applies to all states, including Florida, grants parents the right to review and confirm the accuracy of their child's educational records.

Florida Statutes also address the issue of parental access to student records. According to the Florida K-20 Education Code (section 1002.22), parents have the right to access their child's educational records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or any due process hearing involving their child. The code stipulates that access must be provided in no more than 45 days after the request is made.

Schools maintain various types of records, such as grades, test scores, disciplinary actions, and health records. Under FERPA and Florida law, schools must provide parents with access to these records upon request. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if a court has issued an order that revokes a parent's right to access educational records, the school may comply with that order.

It is important to note that once a student turns 18 or attends a postsecondary institution, rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student, known as the 'eligible student.' However, parents may still gain access to the records if the student is considered a dependent for tax purposes or if consent is given by the student.

Historically, disputes over parental access to school records have occurred when one parent is denied information in cases of divorce or separation. In Florida, both parents—regardless of custodial status—have rights to their children's records unless a court order states otherwise.

For instance, in Doe v. State of Florida, a case from the early 2000s, a non-custodial parent was initially denied access to his child's school records because he did not have custody. The court ruled that non-custodial parents retain their rights to access educational records unless there is a court order specifically removing that right.

In conclusion, Florida laws align with federal regulations to ensure that parents have rights to access their child's school records. Understanding these rights is crucial for maintaining transparency and involvement in a child's education. Parents who encounter difficulties in accessing records should seek legal advice or contact the Florida Department of Education for guidance.