Student Records: Questions, Answers and Guidelines
Disclaimer: Some of the information in these documents may be outdated because of recent amendments to the Student Records Regulations. The Department is currently working on updating these documents. Please see the amended regulations for the current language.
Summary of Regulations Pertaining to Student Records
The Student Record Regulations adopted by the Board of Education apply to all public elementary and secondary schools in Massachusetts. (They also apply to private day and residential schools that have state approval to provide publicly-funded special education services.) The regulations are designed to insure parents' and students' rights of confidentiality, inspection, amendment, and destruction of student records, and to assist school authorities in carrying out their responsibilities under state and federal law.
The regulations apply to all information kept by a school or school district on a student in a way that the student may be individually identified. The regulations divide the record into two parts: the transcript and the temporary record. The transcript includes only the minimum information necessary to reflect the student's educational progress. This information includes name, address, course titles, grades, credits, and grade level completed. The transcript is kept by the school district for at least sixty years after the student leaves the system.
The temporary record contains the majority of the information maintained by the school about the student. This may include such things as standardized test results; class rank; school-sponsored extracurricular activities; evaluations and comments by teachers, counselors, and other persons; disciplinary records; and other information. The temporary record is destroyed within five years after the student leaves the school system.
The following is a summary of the major provisions of the Student Record Regulations concerning the rights of parents and eligible students. Under the regulations, "eligible students" are at least 14 years old or have entered the ninth grade; they may exercise these rights just as their parents may:
Inspection of Record
A parent or an eligible student has the right to inspect all portions of the student record upon request. The record must be made available within two days after the request, unless the parent or student consents to a delay.
The parent and eligible student have the right to receive a copy of any part of the record, although the school may charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplicating the materials.
The parent and eligible student may request to have parts of the record interpreted by a qualified professional from the school, or may invite anyone else of their choice to inspect or interpret the record with them.
Confidentiality of Record
Except where the regulations specifically authorize access by third parties, no individuals or organizations other than the parent, eligible student and school personnel working directly with the student are allowed to have access to information in the student record without the specific, informed, written consent of the parent or eligible student.
Amendment of Record
The parent and eligible student have the right to add relevant comments, information, or other written materials to the student record. In addition, the parent and eligible student have a right to request that information in the record be amended or deleted. They are entitled to meet with the principal (or the principal's designee) to discuss their objection to information that is in the record, and to receive a written decision. A parent or eligible student who is not satisfied with the principal's decision may appeal to higher authorities in the school district.
Destruction of Records
The regulations require school authorities to destroy a student's temporary record within five years after the student transfers, graduates or withdraws from the school system. School authorities are also allowed to destroy misleading, outdated, or irrelevant information in the record from time to time while the student is enrolled in the school system. In each case, the school must first notify the parent and eligible student and give them the opportunity to receive a copy of any of the information before it is destroyed.
The above is only a summary of some of the more important provisions of the Student Record Regulations that relate to the rights of parents and eligible students. The Student Record Regulations are included in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations at 603 CMR 23.00. For more detailed information, please review the regulations (copies of which should be available in every public school) and the Questions and Answers guide published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 1995.