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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-042

On June 12, 2015, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Greenfield School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the summer of 2014, properly responded to a parent’s request for access to pupil records.

A district must permit parents, on request, to inspect and review their child's education records. An “education record” is defined as “those records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information directly related to a student; and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.”

Behavioral records are those pupil records which include tests relating specifically to achievement or measurement of ability. According to the school district’s records policy, behavioral records must be kept until one year from the date the student last attended the school.

In June 2014, the parent made a request to the school principal to see a spelling word list that was used as part of an evaluation to determine if the student was eligible for special education services. The parent had previously met with the special education teacher to review all of the materials related to the evaluation. The parent was able to take notes on the spelling word list but was not allowed to copy the word lists as they were copyrighted materials. In late June, the parent again emailed the principal and asked to see all of the work the special education teacher administered to the student as part of the evaluation.

In July 2014, the principal contacted the special education teacher and asked for the evaluation materials as the parent wanted to see them again as she believed she had not seen the correct spelling word list. The special education teacher discovered she had inadvertently shredded the evaluation materials as she was cleaning out her classroom at the end of the school year. The district notified the parent on August 12, 2014, in an email that the test protocols had been shredded by the teacher. In the fall of 2014, the parent enrolled the student in another school district for the 2014-15 school year.

District staff inadvertently shredded the records related to the student’s evaluation and did not maintain them for one year after the student was no longer enrolled in the district as required by school district policy.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure appropriate procedures are followed by staff for the maintenance of behavioral records. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 7/24/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support