Massachusetts Charter Schools
Use of Approved Mail House - Charter Schools and Districts
|To:||Charter School Leaders and Superintendents|
|From:||Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.|
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
|Date:||August 17, 2010|
This memorandum provides you with guidance regarding changes recently made in the charter school statute that require the release of student names and addresses for the purpose of recruiting students. As amended by Chapter 12, Section 7, of the Acts of 2010, the charter school statute now requires that both school districts and Commonwealth charter schools provide the names and addresses of students to a third party mail house for mailings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(g). This requirement is consistent with federal and state law regarding student records.
Release of Student Names and Addresses
The release of student record information without written parental consent is generally prohibited by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which applies to all schools that receive federal funds, and the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations (Mass SRR). Both FERPA and the Mass SRR, however, allow schools to release the names and addresses of students, as well as other "directory" information, without prior parental consent, provided they give notice that it is their policy to release such information and they notify parents and eligible students of their right to request that this information not be released without their prior written consent.
In order to comply with the mail house provision of the charter school statute, M.G.L. c. 71, § 89(g), all schools must include in their student handbook, or the routine information letter the school publishes under section 23.10(1) of the Mass SRR, notice that the school will release the names and addresses of students to a third party mail house, upon request, unless the parent or eligible student objects to such release. Charter schools should indicate that the release will occur upon the request of a school district. School districts should indicate that the release will occur upon the request of a Commonwealth charter school. To the extent that charter schools and school districts have not already given such notice for the upcoming school year, they should do so as quickly as possible and, in any event, no later than the end of September 2010.
Requesting Student Names and Addresses
For purposes of a mailing to prospective students, once each year, a Commonwealth charter school may request from the school district(s) it is chartered to serve, the names and addresses of district students eligible to enroll in the charter school. See 603 CMR 1.06(g). Likewise, for purposes of a mailing, a school district may request from Commonwealth charter schools, the names and addresses of charter school students who are enrolled in the charter school and reside in the district. Upon receiving such a request, the Commonwealth charter school or the school district must send within 30 days, in an electronic form, the names and addresses of such students to an approved third party mail house. 603 CMR 1.06(g).
The charter school regulations, in 603 CMR 1.06(g), specify that "any vendor listed on the statewide procurement or master services agreement for mailing services shall be deemed approved for the purposes of this section." Information on approved vendors can be found as follows:
In contracting with a third party mail house for purposes of mailing to students, charter schools and school districts should take care to include contract provisions sufficient to protect the security of such student information. It is wise to include a provision that limits the use of such information to the purposes specified in the charter school statute and regulations.
I urge charter schools and districts to respond promptly when requests are made and to ensure that parents and eligible students are given the opportunity to opt-out of the release. Please feel free to contact the Charter School Office at 781-338-3227, should you require additional information.