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Confidentiality, Consent, and Student Records


Click on the tabs below for current information and resources related to confidentiality, consent, and student records:

Wisconsin Specific Pupil Records Resources

State and federal statutes provide specific protections to students and parents regarding pupil records. In some circumstances, the state law provides additional protection not included in federal law and vice-versa. In any case, school districts must comply with the most restrictive statute (i.e., the law that provides the highest level of protection). State and federal statutes also provide protection of student information maintained by community agencies and dictate how schools exchange information with agencies and systems outside of education.

Statutory Language

Student Records and Confidentiality Document (DPI)- The Student Records and Confidentiality bulletin addresses some of the most frequently asked questions related to pupil records. The bulletin has been designed to help local school districts develop their own local policies regarding student records and confidentiality. It is not to be construed as legal advice.

Online Data Privacy Training for School Staff (DPI)- DPI offers a two-part, online training to help educators understand how to manage pupil records consistent with both state and federal laws. These trainings can fulfill the requirement in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations to have employees who access special education records complete training (34 CFR 300.623).

Sharing Information Across Systems (DPI) - Summarizes the circumstances allowed for in statute, other than informed consent or court order, under which schools and other systems (e.g., law enforcement, the courts and juvenile justice, social services, health) can share confidential information. This resource is designed to help local school districts and their community partners develop local policies, procedures, and agreements regarding how they will share information across systems. It is not to be construed as legal advice.

Records Management for School Districts, Public Libraries, and Public Library Systems - The Schedule serves as a guidepost against which to check the individual needs of each school district. A school district may adopt the entire Schedule, individual sections, or a modified version. The Public Records Board along with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recommends that school districts adopt the WSDRRS and submit the Notification Form to the Wisconsin State Historical Society.

Student Data Privacy Webpages (DPI) - Additional DPI webpages related to Student Data Privacy

Wisconsin Subpoenas & Court Orders Affecting Disclosure of Pupil Records - Wisconsin statutes related to court orders.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Resources & Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) provides certain rights for parents regarding their children’s education records. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. IDEA includes provisions to ensure the protection of the confidentiality of any personally identifiable data, information, and records collected or maintained related to special education.

Statutory Language

Protecting Student Privacy Webpages and Resources (USDOE) - The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office (SSPO) has many Resources, FAQs, and videos on FERPA. The SPPO is responsible for the administration and enforcement of federal laws relating to the privacy of students’ education records, and for the provision of technical assistance on student privacy issues for the broader education community.

A Parent's Guide to FERPA (USDOE) - This document was updated in July of 2021 and is intended to provide parents with general information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

FERPA General Guidance for Students (USDOE) - This compilation of letters and guidance documents provides eligible students with general information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

FAQs on Photos and Videos under FERPA (USDOE) - This document provides answers to frequently asked questions related to photos and videos as student records.

School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (USDOE) - This guidance document consists of questions about school districts’ responsibilities relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement units and others.

FERPA/IDEA Cross-Walk (Updated 2022) (USDOE) - This document is a side-by-side comparison of the legal provisions and definitions in IDEA Part B, IDEA Part C and FERPA. It is intended to help differentiate these statutes and provide a comparisons for the shared definitions.

Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) & Parental Consent

PPRA (20 U.S.C. § 1232h, 34 CFR Part 98) affords parents of students certain rights regarding, among other things, participation in surveys, the collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. Schools are required to develop and adopt policies, in consultation with parents, to address the protection of student privacy and parents’ rights under PPRA.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) v FERPA Resources

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires covered entities to protect individuals’ health records and other personal health information the entities maintain or transmit, known as protected health information (PHI), by requiring appropriate safeguards to protect privacy, and setting limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The rule also gives patients certain rights with respect to their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections (amendments). These resources help schools understand the intersection of FERPA and HIPAA.

Information on Confidential Services for Youth in Wisconsin

Students under the age of 18 have some rights related to confidential services and behavioral health services (including mental health services) in Wisconsin.

Confidential Services Available to Youth in Wisconsin (DPI) - This document provides information on Wisconsin law that provides some limited circumstances in which youth may access confidential services independently.

The Reporting Requirements for Situations Involving Sexual Contact or Intercourse and Students: Suggested Procedures for School Employees (DPI) - This document is intended to help school districts, in collaboration with their local child welfare and law enforcement agencies, develop policies and procedures to address situations where a school employee has reasonable cause to suspect that a minor student has been involved in sexual contact or intercourse.

WI Department of Health Services (DHS) Resources - Client Rights of Minor

WI Department of Health Services (DHS) Resources Client Rights Pamphlets for Minors

DPI Resources Relating to Parent, Guardian, and Custodial Rights and Educational Decision-Making Authority

While parents usually retain legal authority over important decisions regarding their children, there are sometimes exceptions made by the court. These resources are meant to help clarify some complex situations related to educational decision-making authority.

Contact Information

For questions about access, disclosure, and maintenance of Personally Indefinable Information (PII) from pupil records, contact Julie Incitti (608) 266-0963.

For questions from employers, colleges, and universities who need to verify that a candidate has a GED or HSED from Wisconsin, view the GED/HSED Credential Verifications page.

For copies of a GED/HSED Transcript or Credential, view the GED/HSED Transcripts and Credentials page.

For access to an individual pupil record from a Wisconsin school, please contact the local school district.

To request confidential data from DPI, please fill out the form on the DPI Confidential Data Application page.