Legal Statute And Regulation Disclosures
Elementary and Secondary Education Act
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most recently reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), requires state education agencies, school districts, and individual schools to provide numerous notices to parents, the public, and others. Because ESSA is so new, and several regulatory actions to implement ESSA have yet to be written or are in the proposed rule process, documents issued under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) remain in effect as current guidance until the Department of Education puts out new agency information. So, at this time, TSBA will continue to reference the existing documents until new guidance is published.
The U.S. Department of Education's non-regulatory guidance document, Parental Involvement Title I, Part A (April 2004), contains a chart of the key parental notice requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA (as amended by NCLB), which identifies who should issue the notices and when they must be issued. Some of these notices include: annual report cards; progress reviews; schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; parental involvement policies; state education agency complaint procedures; teacher and paraprofessional qualifications; identification of non-highly qualified teachers (now referred to under ESSA as teachers that do not meet the state's certification qualifications); student achievement information; an informational meeting on Title I, Part A; a disclosure that the district routinely releases the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary students to military recruiters unless parents opt out; and a variety of information about the status of English Language Learners. The description of each notice in the chart contains references to the relevant statutory sections and guidance documents, some of which also contain model policies.
The following notices are no longer required under the reauthorized ESEA:
States no longer must require LEAs with schools identified as "in need for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring" to provide supplemental education services, public school choice, and notice tied to those, but a state may still require it (pg. 18 in the link referenced below).
Schools are no longer required to provide "notice to parents related to the highly qualified status of their child's teacher" (pg. 26 in the link referenced below).
States and LEAs are not required to comply with 3302(b) of the ESEA parental notification requirements, mandating that parents must be notified when LEAs fail to meet one or more of the AMAOs. They must still comply with the requirements of 3302(a) of the ESEA which requires notice, within the first 30 days of school, to parents whose students have been identified as English learners (pg. 29 in the link referenced below).
For information about updates to notice requirements, Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act Frequently Asked Questions (January 2017) is available by clicking here.
Notice provided to the public that a school has been identified for "comprehensive support and improvement" or "targeted support and improvement"
When the LEA receives notice from the State that it has been identified for comprehensive support and improvement, the LEA must "promptly notify the parents" of every enrolled student in the school:
that the school has been identified as such, 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(b);
the reasons for the identification, 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(b); and
how parents can become involved in the needs assessment under 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(c) and developing and implementing a comprehensive support and improvement plan as described in 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(d); 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(b).
An LEA may provide all students enrolled in a school identified for "comprehensive support and improvement" the option to transfer to another public school, including information about transportation to the new school and information on the academic achievement of the new school. 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(h). For further information on the content of the notice, see Section D in the U.S. Department of Education's Public School Choice Non-Regulatory Guidance (2009). No new guidance regarding this issue has been released since the passage of ESSA.
Additionally, when an LEA receives notice from the State that it has been identified for "targeted support or improvement", it must "promptly notify the parents" with:
the reasons for identification: a list of groups and subgroups that are under performing under 34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b)(1) and low-performing under 34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b)(2); 34 C.F.R. § 200.22(b)(2)(i) ; and
how the parents can become involved in developing and implementing the targeted support and improvement plan in 34 C.F.R. § 200.22(c); 34 C.F.R. § 200.22(b)(2)(ii).
In regard to both classifications, the notice must be given in an understandable and uniform format, and "to the extent practicable", written in a language that the parents can understand or be orally translated. 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(b)(1)-(2); 34 C.F.R. § 200.22(b) (consistent with requirements under § 200.21(b)(1) through (3)). In general, the notice must be provided to parents directly through regular mail or e-mail or "other direct means of distribution" and "in a timely manner." 34 C.F.R. § 200.31(d)(3)(i). The notice must also be provided in an "alternative format accessible to that parent" for a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 34 C.F.R. § 200.21(b)(3).
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), school districts must provide parents/guardians and eligible students (students at least 18 years of age) with annual notice of their rights to inspect and review education records, amend education records, consent to disclose personally identifiable information in education records, and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(a)(2). The notice must include the procedure to request and review education records; as well as a statement that records may be disclosed to school officials without prior written consent. This statement should define a school official and also what constitutes a legitimate educational interest when it comes to accessing a student's educational records. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(a)(3). Notice may be provided in any way that is reasonably likely to inform parents of their rights and must effectively notify parents who have a primary or home language other than English and parents/guardians of eligible students who are disabled. 34 C.F.R. § 99.7(b).
For more information, the U.S. Department of Education's Model Notification of Rights under FERPA for Elementary and Secondary Schools is available by clicking here.
Under FERPA, school districts may disclose directory information if they have given public notice to parents/guardians and eligible students of what information has been designated as directory information and when and how parents/guardians and eligible students may opt out of allowing the district to disclose their directory information. 34 C.F.R. § 99.37(a). Finally, under ESEA, school districts must provide notice that they routinely release the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary students to military recruiters unless parents opt out. 20 U.S.C. § 7908. School districts may provide this military recruiter notice as part of their general FERPA notice. The U.S. Department of Education's FERPA Model Notice for Directory Information is available by clicking here.
FERPA regulations permit LEAs and schools to adopt limited directory information policies that allow the disclosure of directory information to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both. 34 C.F.R § 99.37(d). It is up to individual LEAs and schools to decide whether to adopt limited directory information policies and how to implement them. The regulations' directory information exception makes clear that parents/guardians and eligible students may not, by opting out of the disclosure of directory information, prevent an LEA or school from requiring a student to wear or present a student ID or badge. 34 C.F.R. § 99.37(c). While the Department of Education does not require LEAs or schools to establish policies mandating that students wear badges, these are individual decisions that LEAs and schools should make when taking into account local circumstances.
The Department of Education also provides a Frequently Asked Questions document addressing disclosures under FERPA.
Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) requires school districts to adopt a number of policies regarding surveys of students, instructional materials, physical examinations, personal information used for marketing, and the like related to students. Parents must be notified of these policies at least annually at the beginning of the school year and within a reasonable time period after any substantial change is made to the policies. 20 U.S.C. § 1232h(c)(2)(A). For more information, the U.S. Department of Education's Model Notification of Rights Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment is available by clicking here.
If districts plan to: (1) use students' personal information for selling or marketing purposes; (2) administer any survey about any of the eight topics listed in the statute (political beliefs, income, sex behavior or attitudes, etc.); or (3) administer certain non-emergency, invasive physical examinations, districts must directly notify parents at least annually at the beginning of the school year of the specific or approximate dates when these activities are scheduled or expected to be scheduled. 20 U.S.C. § 1232h(c)(2)(B), (c)(2)(C). For more information, the U.S. Department of Education's PPRA Model Notice and Consent/Opt-Out for Specific Activities is available by clicking here.
The Department of Education lists policies that PPRA requires LEAs to develop with the consultation of parents. These policies concern privacy, parental access to information, and administration of physical examinations of minors. More information regarding these policies is available by clicking here.
Child Nutrition Programs
If school districts participate in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Special Milk Program, they must provide both parents and the public with information about free and reduced price meals and/or free milk near the beginning of each school year. 7 C.F.R. § 245.5. Districts also must provide parents with an application form. Districts may not disclose children's free and reduced eligibility status, unless the requestor of such information falls into one of the categories specified in the National School Lunch Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1758(b)(6)(A)(i)-(v).
The USDA's document entitled Eligibility Manual for School Meals contains information on federal requirements regarding the determination and verification of eligibility for free and reduced price meals in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The document contains information about what the application for these programs is to contain, including a link to an online application. The document also contains information describing to whom (pp. 82-83), and under what conditions, information regarding free and reduced eligibility status may be disclosed (pp. 80-89). For more information, the 2016-2017 Eligibility Manual for School Meals is available by clicking here.
Striving to reduce paperwork, Congress has incorporated three alternative provisions into the standard requirements for annual determinations of eligibility for free and reduced price school meals. These alternative provisions are available by clicking here.
In schools where at least 80 percent of enrolled students have free or reduced price meal eligibility, annual notification of program availability and certification only needs to occur once every 2 consecutive school years.
With the help of school food service staff, LEAs must implement procedures to enable parents and guardians to request modifications to meal services for their children with disabilities. 7 C.F.R. §§ 15b.25, 15b.6(b). LEAs must notify parents/guardians on both the process to (1) request meal modifications that accommodate the child's needs and (2) for resolving disputes. The hearing process must follow the necessary procedural requirements: notice, right to counsel, opportunity to participate, examination of the record.
Until the USDA updates its supplementary guidance documents related to local school wellness policies, the existing USDA memorandum (July 8, 2011) appears to still be in effect. This memorandum discusses how school districts can implement the requirement for informing and updating the public about the content and implementation of their local school wellness policies by developing or disseminating printed or electronic materials to families of school children and other members of the school community at the beginning of the school year and posting the local school wellness policy and an assessment of its implementation on the district or school website. According to the memorandum, the information must be made available to the public in an accessible, easily understood manner.
According to "Local School Wellness Policy: Guidance and Q&As" (2017), the USDA does not specify a specific timeline for updates to the wellness policies. Ideally, however, the policy should be updated after conducting a triennial assessment. 7 C.F.R. § 210.31(e)(3). The updates are dependent on the structure of the LEA's policy. The LEAs are required to notify the public about the content of the policies annually and discuss any updates. 7 C.F.R. § 210.31(d)(2). They must also inform the public about the progress made towards meeting the goals of the local school wellness policy. 7 C.F.R. § 210.31(d)(3).
Model and sample policy language endorsed by the USDA is available by clicking here. For more information, see below:
School District Wellness Policies: Where do they Stand and What do you Need to Know?, a presentation by the CDC
Guidance for school authorities: Contracting with Food Service Management Companies
Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires school districts to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing building materials and develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan. School districts must annually notify parents, teachers, and employee organizations in writing of the availability of the management plan and planned or in-progress inspections, reinspections, response actions, and post-response actions, including periodic re-inspection and surveillance activities. 40 C.F.R. §§ 763.84(c), (f), 763.93(g)(2).
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires school districts, through their homeless student liaisons, to provide public notice of the education rights of the homeless students enrolled in their districts. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(e)(3)(C)(i). Such notice is to be disseminated in places where homeless students receive services under this Act, including schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens. 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(6)(A)(vi). The notice must be in a "manner and form" understandable to homeless students and their parents/guardians, "including, if necessary and to the extent feasible," in their native language. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(e)(3)(C)(iii).
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines for States which address ways a State may (1) assist LEAs to implement McKinney-Vento, as amended by ESSA, and (2) review and revise policies and procedures, along with LEAs, that may present barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youths in school. The guidelines are available by clicking here.
In March 2017, the U.S. Department of Education updated the "Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Non-Regulatory Guidance." This document highlights the key changes brought about by ESSA. For notice requirements under "tips for establishing an effective dispute resolution process", see page 33.
Other helpful links presented by the U.S. Department of Education are available below:
Dear Colleague Letter: Educational Rights of Homeless Children and Youths
Supporting the Success of Homeless Children and Youths Fact Sheet
The National Center for Homeless Education (funded by the U.S. Department of Education) has created free Educational Rights posters (in black/white or color; English/Spanish; parents/students) that can be downloaded or ordered by clicking here.
Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, the Age Discrimination Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act
A number of federal statutes protect the rights of beneficiaries not to be discriminated against in programs or activities receiving federal and/or state financial assistance. Specifically, the following statutes prohibit discrimination: Title VI (race, color, ethnicity, and national origin); Title IX (sex and pregnancy); Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (disability); and the Age Discrimination Act (age). The Boy Scouts Act requires public schools to provide equal access to the use of school property to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.
The regulations implementing the above statutes require school districts to notify students, parents, and others that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, disability, or age and that they provide equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. Title VI, 34 C.F.R. § 100.6(d); Title IX, 34 C.F.R. § 106.9; Section 504, 34 C.F.R. § 104.8; Age Discrimination Act, 34 C.F.R. § 110.25; Title II, 28 C.F.R. § 35.106; Boy Scouts Act, 34 C.F.R. § 108.9. The regulations contain minor differences relating to the required content of the notices and the methods used to publish them.
The U.S. Department of Education's Notice of Non-Discrimination describes the content requirements of notices under these statutes, including the methods of notification required by Title IX and Section 504, and contains a sample notice of non-discrimination that school districts may use to meet the requirements of all of the above statutes.
NOTE: The notice must include the identity and contact information of the coordinators designated to handle complaints under Title IX (34 C.F.R. § 106.8), Section 504 (34 C.F.R. § 104.8), the Americans with Disabilities Act (28 C.F.R. § 35.107), and the Age Discrimination Act (34 C.F.R. § 110.25).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts must give parents of a child with a disability a copy of its procedural safeguards only one time per year, but also upon initial referral or parental request for an evaluation, the filing of a first request for a due process hearing, a disciplinary action constituting a change in placement, and at the request of a parent. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(d)(1)(a); 34 C.F.R. § 300.504(a). A school district may post a copy of the procedural safeguards on its website. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(d)(1)(b); 34 C.F.R. § 300.504(b). The notice must fully explain the IDEA's procedural safeguards in an easily understandable manner and in the native language of the parents unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(d)(2); 34 C.F.R. § 300.504(c), (d). Parents may choose to receive the procedural safeguards notice and other notices under the IDEA by email, if the LEA makes this option available. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(n); 34 C.F.R. § 300.505. For more information, the U.S. Department of Education's Model Form: Procedural Safeguards Notice is available by clicking here.
NOTE: The procedural safeguards notice requirements in the IDEA also apply to parents of homeless children with disabilities. For more information, see Question B-2 in Questions and Answers on Special Education and Homelessness by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The U.S. Department of Education analyzed when and how parents must be notified before "records containing personally identifiable information are destroyed under Part B of IDEA." The question considered was whether "under 34 C.F.R. § 300.624, a school district must specifically notify parents at the time the district intends to destroy [a student's] records or whether such notice must be provided at the time the records are no longer needed." The Department's letter responds that, under the IDEA, parents must be informed when the personally identifiable information is no longer needed to provide services.
DISCLAIMER: TSBA provides legal information as a general service to TSBA policy subscribers. TSBA provides this listing for informational purposes only. TSBA makes no representation that this listing contains every federally required annual notice. This memo should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. School systems are encouraged to seek legal advice from a school attorney in order to determine all required annual notices by federal and laws or regulations.