Parental Rights Under IDEA and FERPA

Father and sonIt is important for School Liaisons to note to parents that, under IDEA, children with disabilities and their parents and guardians are afforded procedural safeguards through the evaluation process. Under the law, parents have the right to

  • choose whether or not to have a child evaluated and, if so, to have it done in a timely manner;
  • choose the environment in which the child will receive services (at home, in a preschool setting, or in another location):
  • go through the early intervention process in their preferred language;
  • receive full copies of all evaluation results and notices regarding each aspect of the program;
  • refuse any specific service without losing the right to other services;
  • bring or consult an advocate or attorney or bring one to any meeting at any stage of the process;
  • keep all information regarding the family confidential;
  • examine and correct all records regarding the child and family;
  • withhold or withdraw consent at any stage of the process;
  • be told of any possible changes in the child's evaluation or services before they are made;
  • be involved in all stages of early intervention;
  • choose not to participate in the Early Intervention Program; and
  • repeal decisions about their child.

Parents’ Rights to Their Child’s Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents certain rights to access, amend, and prevent disclosure of their child’s education records, such as report cards, IEPs, transcripts, disciplinary records, and class schedules by education agencies and institutions that receive Federal funds. FERPA also requires schools to notify parents annually that they are allowed to inspect documents, amend them, and consent to any disclosures of personal information. (Note: While FERPA does not technically apply to DoDEA schools, because they do not receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, DoD does follow similar guidelines to safeguard students’ rights as part of its own policies.)

The law generally requires that schools obtain signed and dated written consent from a parent or guardian in order to disclose information from a child’s educational record. However, parental consent is not required in a handful of instances, such as when students transfer to another school. Schools are also allowed to share “directory” information such as names and addresses, which is not considered to be harmful to the child.

For additional information about the rights of parents under FERPA, a link to additional guidance is available in the Resources section of this module.