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New Student Records Requirements: Part I

Brad Banasik

By Brad Banasik, MASB Legal Counsel/Director of Labor Relations & Policy

DashBoard, June 7, 2017

MCL 380.1136 was recently added to the Revised School Code by Public Act 367 of 2016 to address the issue of protecting the privacy of student records. This new law includes multiple requirements that went into effect on March 22. This article will focus on the law’s provisions that create new mandates for school districts relating to the disclosure of directory information.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is the predominant law that covers the confidentiality and disclosure of student records. In most cases, schools must have written permission from a parent (or an 18-year-old student) in order to release information from a student’s education record, but FERPA allows the disclosure of student record information to third parties without consent under specific circumstances. This includes the disclosure of “directory information.” Under FERPA, directory information is defined as information contained in an education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This information usually includes the student’s name, address, email address, date and place of birth, photograph, enrollment status, academic achievements and dates of attendance. FERPA requires a school district to provide notice of the types of information that it has designated as directory information and to permit parents and eligible students to restrict the disclosure of the information from any or all of the designated categories.

Now, MCL 380.1136 requires school districts to develop a list of uses for which a district would commonly disclose a student’s directory information. This list would likely include the following examples: photograph and name in a school yearbook, name on athletic programs, name listed on academic honor roll, name listed on graduation program, student of the week/month recognition, or a playbill (showing a student’s role in a drama production). A school district’s central office administration should consult with building administrators to discuss how directory information has been used by the elementary, middle and high school buildings in the past to determine the uses that will be identified on the district’s list.

Additionally, school districts must develop an opt-out form that includes the above list and allows a parent to elect not to have his or her child’s directory information disclosed for one or more of the listed uses. The opt-out form must be presented to a student’s parent within the first 30 days of the school year, and it must be made available at other times upon request.

If a parent signs the opt-out form and submits it back to the school district’s administration, the district shall not include the student’s directory information in any of the uses that have been opted out of in the opt-out form.

Look for additional articles in future editions of DashBoard for further guidance on complying with MCL 380.1136.

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