Student and Personnel Records
Although most school district records are public, there are certain restrictions under state and federal law pertaining to items such as student, personnel and safety records. This page provides an explanation of those records with limited or restricted access to the public.
ACCESS TO STUDENT RECORDS
Des Moines Public Schools Notification of Rights under FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a Federal law, affords parents and students over 18 years of age certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. These rights are:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the School receives a request for access. Parents or eligible students should submit to the School principal a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The School official will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. Parents or eligible students who wish to ask the School to amend a record should write the School principal, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the School decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the School will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- The right to privacy of personally identifiable information in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the School as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the School Board; a person or company with whom the School has outsourced services or functions it would otherwise use its own employees to perform (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or a parent, student, or other volunteer assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the School to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Des Moines Public Schools Notice for Directory Information
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that Des Moines Public Schools, with certain exceptions, obtain your written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your child’s education records. However, Des Moines Public Schools may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent, unless you have advised the District to the contrary in accordance with District procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow the Des Moines Public Schools to include this type of information from your child’s education records in certain school publications. Examples include:
- A playbill, showing your student’s role in a drama production;
- The annual yearbook;
- Honor roll or other recognition lists;
- Graduation programs; and
- Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members. Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent’s prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, two federal laws require local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters, upon request, with the following information – names, addresses and telephone listings – unless parents have advised the LEA that they do not want their student’s information disclosed without their prior written consent.
If you do not want Des Moines Public Schools to disclose directory information from your child’s education records without your prior written consent, you must notify the District in writing by September 15. Des Moines Public Schools has designated the following information as directory information:
- Student’s name
- Telephone listing
- Electronic mail address
- Date and place of birth
- The most recent educational agency or institution attended
- Dates of attendance
- Grade level
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
ACCESS TO PERSONNEL RECORDS
State law requires public employers to disclose certain personnel information, but it also sets limits on public access to personnel records of public employees. Iowa law balances the goal of public accountability with the privacy and security interests of public employees. The following guidelines from Iowa’s Attorney General apply to the state’s Public Records Law and providing responsible access to information about government employees:
- Records of payments to government employees are always public, including wages, reimbursed travel, or a cash payment in settlement of an employment dispute.
- Information about an employee’s promotion or pay increase is public, but performance evaluations or disciplinary records may be kept confidential.
- An employee’s individual vacation and sick leave record is open to the public. The public can have access to records that show the number of days employees use for vacation or sick leave, but the medical reason for an employee’s sick leave may be kept confidential.
- A public employee’s name and business address is public. But government bodies may keep confidential an employee’s home address, gender, and birth date.
WHAT ELSE IS NOT A PUBLIC RECORD?
Pursuant to Iowa law, the School Board may designate documents relating to school safety as confidential. These documents include security procedures, vulnerability assessments, evacuation procedures, security codes and passwords, and emergency preparedness procedures.