On May 6, 2014, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. This is the department’s decision on the complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2013-14 school year, improperly disclosed information from a student’s education record.
On February 4, 2014, a district employee conducted speech and language testing for the student (sixth grade) as part of a special education evaluation. The student’s IEP team met on March 7, 2014 to determine the student’s eligibility for special education. Later the same day, a younger child (fourth grade) of the parent, related to the parent that a classmate talked with the younger child on several occasions during the month of February about several aspects of the evaluation. Specifically, the classmate spoke of the student “failing” or “doing well” on specific tests, and the student would, “probably need an IEP.” The classmate is the child of the district employee who conducted the speech and language testing for the student. The parent asserts she did not discuss the older child’s evaluation with the younger child prior to March 7.
In an interview with the department, the district employee stated she went to the older child’s classroom on February 4, 2014, to escort the student to the testing location, conducted the testing in a separate room, and returned the student to class. During testing, the student asked whether the district employee had a child in fourth grade. The employee’s only other contact with the student during February was a brief “hello” in the school hallway. The employee further stated she did not discuss the testing results with her child. Likewise, the employee did not discuss the results of any testing conducted during the course of the evaluation with other district employees prior to the IEP team meeting on March 7. The employee stated her child knew the general nature of her responsibilities at the school.
The district conducted an internal investigation of the parent’s concerns, and interviewed the classmate and several other children identified by the parent’s younger child as being present when the classmate spoke about the evaluation. Neither the classmate, nor the other children could recall speaking with the parent’s younger child about the student’s evaluation. Some of the children knew the classmate’s parent was a district employee, and some knew the general nature of her responsibilities at the school.
A district must protect the confidentiality of information contained in a student’s education records. To the extent, if any, the younger child and classmates discussed the student’s evaluation, the evidence indicates the discussion was informed not by any information released by the district from the student’s education records, but rather from the children’s own knowledge of what teachers and students do at school. The district did not improperly disclose information from the student’s education record.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 6/18/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support