My favorite FERPA request letter

As we head into the third nine weeks (and second semester) in the Carolinas, I think it’s great to remind parents that you can do a records request at any time. Below is my favorite letter to use as it is comprehensive in nature.

Pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §§1232g and 1232h (FERPA), and 34 C.F.R. §99.1 et seq. (FERPA regulations), this is a formal request for access to review and scan My child’s permanent, cumulative educational records.

Thus, on behalf of my child I hereby request a review of all such records, including without limitation the following:

1. Cumulative education records;

2. All audio and video recordings, videotapes and/or digital recordings of the student, including without limitation video recordings of any disciplinary incidents;

3. All data collected in your Education Management Information System (EMIS) on how funds are spent on the student and for what services the district is billing the State and/or Federal Government;

4. Letters from and to district staff regarding this student, including any and all e-mails;

5. Progress reports, report cards, grades and comments about this student;

6. Teacher files and records, curriculum-based assessments, for all classes and all subjects;

7. Related service files including any data from any contracted related service professionals;

8. Medical and other school health records;

9. Group and individual achievement and ability tests;

10. Assessment plans and permission forms;

11. Evaluations and assessments, including all protocols;

12. Test answer sheets, booklets, protocols and other records of any type related to testing;

13. Attendance records and class schedules;

14. A complete printout of the entire school career, inclusive of any disciplinary records or incident reports;

15. Class work, including samples, work, journals or other items for this student;

16. Functional behavioral assessments, intervention plans, and related materials;

17. Data collected, charts produced, pacing guides, lesson plans and other teaching materials developed as part of implementing this student’s IEPs;

18. Any and all meeting minutes and action plans;

19. IEP documents of any type, including those labeled DRAFT;

20. Goals and objectives, copies with data or progress marked, data, which forms the basis of progress ratings or proposals for changes to any IEP;

21. Correspondence, memos, and notes relating to this student, including notices of placement and statements of rights;

22. Records of any calls relating to the student;

23. Notes, emails and logs maintained by teachers, school psychologists, therapists, counselors, administrators, classroom aides, and/or any other school system staff – paper, electronic, or other forms relating to this specific student, including and not limited to any metadata of these records;

24. Records regarding provision of services to the student, including records of dates and times when said student was or could have been provided applicable related services or special instruction logs, required by FERPA, showing whom accessed the student’s records and when audio or video recordings of the student were made, or meetings were held regarding this student;

25. Prior Written Notices, , Invitations, Meeting sign-in sheets and Permission to Access School-Based Access Program and Medical Assistance (SBAP/MA) funding;

26. Records kept by the district of any type regarding the student or student’s family, including records kept by third parties, including SBAP reimbursed providers any and all other school records pertaining to the referenced student; and

27. Record of any destruction of this student’s records, including the date, content, and person authorized to destroy said records.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience to arrange for the records review. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this regard. 

(As always, please remember the disclaimer below: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. It’s just an example of a letter we’ve used to get our kids’ records.)

How it all began

15 years ago, I welcomed an amazing little boy into this world.
2 years later, another little boy popped into our family.
9 years ago, I was told the oldest had visual processing issues but schools didn’t recognize that and so there was nothing the school could do, plus he was smart.
2 years later, the youngest entered kindergarten. He was diagnosed with ADHD after an in-school suspension and I was told that was a medical issue not a school issue. We took him to the pediatric psychiatrist.
7 years ago, the oldest started having issues in school with transitioning, socializing, emotional regulation. We were told he was too smart for anything but a behavior plan. That same year emails show I had asked for my younger son to have either an IEP or 504 multiple times because of his ADHD. I was never given the special education handbook, never filled out paperwork, and had no prior written notice. He wasn’t failing, so I was told he didn’t qualify for anything in school.
5 years ago, my oldest started having behavior issues in school and not completing work. I asked for an evaluation and was denied. There was no paperwork given nor formal notice of the meeting. I took him to the psychiatrist my younger son and I saw for our ADHD. She determined he had at least ADHD and referred him for testing to rule out other issues. Later that year, the same school that refused to evaluate for a 504 or IEP removed him for obsessive behaviors and OCD until his behaviors were under control and he was released from psychiatric care. He was not referred to the special education department for an evaluation.
That same year the younger child was sent to the office for threatening to eat another student and we spent the next night in Randolph Behavioral Health for an emergency psych. evaluation due to suicidal statements made to the school counselor. No one at the school referred him to special services for an psycho educational evaluation, even though he had weekly issues with completing his written work and took medication at school. During end of grade testing, he had a meltdown and had to be removed to a special setting. He was unable to even begin with the test and it took him all day to complete it. I requested an evaluation for the 5 time since kindergarten. Instead the principal, guidance counselor and psychologist told me they had to do Response to Intervention and it would begin the next school year.
4 years ago, after the neuropsychologist determined my oldest had ADHD, Anxiety, nonverbal learning disorder and need for further testing to rule out autism spectrum disorder. I went to the school to request a meeting. I was told by the school should have done the test and had some idea that something was not right. This time, when I was told his grades were too high for an evaluation by the district’s head psychologist, my reply was “if you don’t do it and I do it and find out you should have done it- I will sue you.” They did the testing but decided to not give him an IEP because he was too smart, even though they agreed he met the DSM-IV diagnosis for Asperger’s Disorder. They also told me because he was so smart and had no academic issues he didn’t qualify for an official 504 but that they would work with him if he needed it. In fact, they were so determined to help us and him, they would make those bad grades and pesky discipline referrals disappear from his record. BUT that was all they could do. They recommended we should find a good therapist for family counseling and social skills. They even decided that the phone call made to me in May saying they were placing a note of In School Suspension for kicking, screaming and throwing things was a mistake and would be removed.
That same year my younger son was sent to school armed with his accommodations in writing. He refused to write and told the teacher his mom said he had a 504 she needed to follow it. The staff had “forgotten” about the RTI plan and forwarded it along later that week. 18 weeks in and he began his usual school behaviors- refusing to write, losing paperwork, hitting, talking back etc. This time I knew enough to write to the school psychologist asking for an evaluation and force them to do one. They did one and decided his deficits were related to his ADHD and he was so smart he didnt need an IEP but maybe a 504 with graphic organizers was finally needed.
3 years ago, I spoke to a woman named Susan Bruce about my children and what we had been dealing with. She pointed me to and told me to look up twice exceptional. Then she signed me up for a conference with Pete Wright in Sept. On Aug 13, 2015 my husband I entered the school and requested a psycho educational evaluation as per the law. The psychologist told us he was too smart for an IEP, but they would give him a 504. School began and 3 days in, my child with a social disability made a joke which violated school policies. The school did nothing. My husband and I were proactive and demanded a new meeting with district level personnel. On Aug 26, we entered the school with the BCBA to discuss my son’s high functioning autism and his need for services such as social skills, OT and counseling. We were told that his emotional issues weren’t educational issues and in SC only kids who were one to two years behind in academics qualify for IEPs. I looked at the school staff and district special education director and said but what about this letter from the US Dept of Education? They agreed to reevaluate him 9 months after his first evaluation.
Two weeks later, I attended the Pete Wright conference sponsored by PRO- Parents. I got all 4 of his books Emotions to Advocacy, All about IEPS, Test and Assessments, and Special Education Law. Within two hours, I called my husband and told him we had to find help because we had been lied to for years and our kids had been denied a free appropriate public education.
3 weeks later, my child had his second nervous breakdown.
Nov 15, 2015, we filed our first state complaint for denial of FAPE and child find violations.
Dec 9, 2015, we filed our second state complaint for denial of FAPE and child find violations.
We won.
Nov 2016, we filed due process for reimbursement of expenses for failure to provide services.
Jan 2017, we won.
We filed three more complaints in 2017, all of which required corrective action by the state.
Then 4 more families filed during the 2016-2017 school year. They were found to have 19 violations. We also found out they had admitted to the state that they had violated child find with 7 other children, one of whom they owed compensatory education and has never returned to the public school.
We decided then we would do everything in our power to help families like ours to prevent this from happening again. That meant going into meetings with parents, connecting with families and helping people searching for answers. Beckye Barnes Advocacy and Consulting was created.