Yes, You Have Rights to Your Child’s Student Records Even Without Custody.

As long as you have parental rights, you also have rights to your child’s educational records, even if you do not have custody. It is called OK Stat § 43-109.6. Keep reading, we will explain.

Picture this: A woman divorces her husband, in the decree the judge awards sole custody to the father with the mother having standard visitation. The now ex-husband/father has primary physical custody of their child. The woman calls the child’s school to request educational records only to be denied on the basis of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Sound about right? Not so much.

What the Law Says About Noncustodial Rights

Many people believe that FERPA justifies the denial in the above scenario, but in reality, the law states that any information and any record from a school, physician, and medical facility belonging to a minor child is to be available to both the custodial and noncustodial parent per Oklahoma Statute Title Marriage and Family §43-109.6.  Simply put, whether or not you have custody of your child, you still have rights to his or her educational records. The custodial parent does not reserve the right to deny the noncustodial parent of educational records. These rights can only be restricted from the noncustodial parent by court order.

FERPA Explained

Here is what FERPA really means: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational records. This law applies to all schools that receive funding from the U.S Department of Education. FERPA does not apply to certain private schools that do not receive federal funding.

FERPA was put in place to protect against public disclosure of educational records such as attendance records, exam scores, student conduct, cumulative records, media files, and more. Aside from school employees such as teachers, counselors, principals, and other employees that are aware of the student’s educational records as their profession requires, a request for educational records to be reviewed, disclosed, or amended can only be granted to authorized parties including parents, legal guardians, eligible students, and other persons whom have received authorization from an eligible party under this Act. However, an eligible student, a student the age of 18 or older, reserves the right to prohibit the release of educational records to the parents or guardians. Violation of FERPA is only permitted to an agent or employee of the public school district. Other FERPA exceptions include:

  • School officials regarding educational interests

  • The accepting school where the student is transferring

  • Specified officials involved in an audit or evaluation

  • Parties involved in financial aid distribution

  • Studies conducted for the school

  • Accreditors

  • Subpoena

  • Healthy and safety officials

  • State and local authorities of the juvenile justice system

It is important to understand the specificity of FERPA. Noneducational records are not protected under FERPA as they are considered directory information, this excludes information belonging to students in custody of child protective services or foster care. Directory information is encompassing information that is not harmful or invasive to a student's privacy. As for what is considered directory information, that is determined by each school's policy, which varies in each district. However, a typical school directory information policy may include but is not limited to student name, address, parents’ or guardians’ names, extracurricular activities, birth information, honors, and more. Parents, legal guardians, and eligible students have the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information; otherwise, it can be requested by anyone without notification or authorization. Schools are required to notify them of their right annually.

Get a Lawyer That Knows Their Stuff

If you have been denied disclosure to educational records, but still maintain parental rights, contact the Mazaheri Law Firm. We have years of experience in marriage and family law cases and have represented clients in this very matter. You have rights, exercise them. Schedule a consultation with the Mazaheri Law Firm at (405) 645-6022.