The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 and implementing regulations (“FERPA”) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education records.

The New York Center for Autism Charter School (NYCACS) recognizes the need to safeguard the confidentiality of personally identifiable information regarding its eligible, thought to be eligible, and protected handicapped students (if not protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) in accordance with FERPA as well as the IDEA and its implementing regulations).

Education records are records that are directly related to the student, including computer media and videotape, which are maintained by an educational agency or by a party acting for the agency.  “Educational agency”, for purposes of this notice, means the NYCACS.  For all students, the educational agency maintains education records that include but are not limited to:

  1. Personally identifiable information (“PII”) is confidential information that includes, but is not limited to, the students’ name, name of parents and other family members, the address of the student or student’s family, and personal information or personal characteristics which would make the student’s identity easily traceable.
  2. Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.  It includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name, address, telephone number, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, sports activity sheets showing weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees, honor roll, recognition lists, awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended.

FERPA affords parents and students over 18 years of age (“eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. “Parent(s)” for purposes of this notice means a parent of a student and includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.  They are:  Parents have the right to inspect and review a child’s education record.  The NYCACS will comply with a request to inspect and review education records without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an Individualized Education Plan “IEP” or any due process hearing, but in no case more than forty five (45) days after the request has been made.

Requests should be submitted in writing, indicating the records the parents wish to inspect, to the Executive Director. Parents have the right to a response from the school to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records. Parents have the right to request copies of the records. While the school cannot charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information, it may charge a copying fee as long as it does not effectively prevent the parents from exercising their right to inspect and review the records.  Parents have the right to appoint a representative to inspect and review their child’s records. The NYCACS must receive a signed, dated and written consent from a parent that specifically states a representative may inspect and review their child’s records. Such release must be sent to the Executive Director or designee and must specify the records that may be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure and the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made and the time period that the release is in effect.  If any education record contains information on more than one child, parents have the right only to inspect and review the information relating to their child.

If parents think information in an education record is inaccurate, misleading or violates the privacy or other rights of their child, they may request amendment of the record. Requests should be in writing and clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. The NYCACS will decide whether to amend the record and will notify the parents in writing of its decision.

If the school refuses to amend a record, it will notify the parents of their right to a hearing to challenge the disputed information. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parents or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.

The school will provide, upon request, a listing of the types and locations of education records maintained, the school officials responsible for these records, and the personnel authorized to see personally identifiable information. Such personnel receive training and instruction regarding confidentiality. The school keeps a record of parties obtaining access to education records, including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records.

Parents have the right to consent or refuse to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  FERPA permits the disclosure of PII from student’s education records, without consent of the parent or eligible student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations.

“Consent” means: the parent (s) have been fully informed regarding the activity requiring consent, in their native language or other mode of communication; they understand and agree in writing to the activity; and they understand that consent is voluntary and maybe revoked at any time, information may be disclosed without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the school, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); state agency representative, person or company with whom the school has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Directory information may be released without parent consent.  Parents have the right to refuse to let an agency designate any or all of the above information as directory information.  Parents are required to submit written notification to the Executive Director, by September 30th, or within two weeks after enrolling at NYCACS if later than September 30th, if they do not want the school to release Directory information.

Parents have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the NYCACS to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  Complaints may be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.

Parents are also encouraged to contact the Executive Director to discuss any concerns regarding FERPA.