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Know your rights to access your child's school records

Regardless of the child custody arrangements that you and your co-parent have, you have the right to access your children's public school records. That right is granted under a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Any school or educational agency that receives money from Department of Education programs is required to comply with FERPA regulations. Generally, parochial and other private schools don't have to comply since they don't receive government funds.

The records covered by FERPA, often referred to as "education records," include any documents maintained by a school or educational agency with information about a specific student. This usually doesn't include school calendars or notices about extracurricular activities or parent-teacher meetings.

Under FERPA, parents (both custodial and noncustodial) of children in public school have the right to:

  • Access their children's records.
  • Ask to have the records changed or updated.
  • Consent to the disclosure of information in the records that identifies their children.

There are exceptions to the parental access ensured by FERPA. For example, if a parent is prohibited by a court order from caring for their child, they may also be prohibited from accessing that child's education records.

Schools must comply with a parent's request to review their child's records. They must provide them with a copy within 45 days after they submit the request or otherwise arrange for them to see the records if they don't live nearby.

The idea behind FERPA is that parents, in most cases, have the right to make sure that their children are receiving a good education. Being able to see their school records is necessary to do that.

Arizona has its own law regarding parental access to education records. FERPA statutes are incorporated within the state law.

If you believe that you are being denied access to your child's records in violation of state and/or federal law, an Arizona family law attorney may be able to help you protect your parental rights and look out for your child's best interests.

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