New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
There are two important federal laws concerning the confidentiality of students’ educational records: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (known as “FERPA”) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (known as “IDEA”).
Throughout the overview, and for your reference, citations are made to pertinent provisions of the FERPA statute or the FERPA and IDEA regulations. References to the FERPA regulations follow the format, 34 C.F.R. § 99__; references to the IDEA regulations follow the format 34 C.F.R. § 300.___; references to FERPA follow the format 20 U.S.C.§ 1232g___. Please note that C.F.R. is the abbreviation for Code of Federal Regulations; U.S.C. is the abbreviation for United States Code.
The statute and regulations can be found at the following web pages:
Important Note: The following is only a summary of FERPA and the relevant IDEA regulatory provisions. While it captures their most important provisions, it is not comprehensive and does not cover every provision.
FERPA's purpose is to ensure that parents and students have meaningful access to their own education records (and that those records are accurate) while at the same time limiting access and release of such records to others. FERPA carries out its purposes by requiring all schools that receive federal funds to:
gain prior written consent of parents before releasing the education records of their children (or any personally identifiable information contained in those records), except in certain circumstances specified in the statute;
allow parents to inspect, review, and obtain copies of the education records of their children;
allow parents to challenge the contents of such records on the basis that they are inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student's privacy rights; and
allow parents to object to the publication of directory information by requiring a school to give parents notice and a reasonable time to object to publication.
Though the primary thrust of IDEA is to ensure a free and appropriate public education for disabled students, IDEA also requires additional safeguards for records relating to students with disabilities. Many of these safeguards overlap and are intertwined with the more general requirements of FERPA.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school. NCLB is based on four principles: accountability for results, more choices for parents, greater freedom for states and communities for more local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on using proven education methods based on scientific research. Public school districts are required to inform parents of certain information that they, according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), have the right to know.
Upon request, the district is required to provide to parents in a timely manner, the following information:
• Whether their child’s teacher has met state qualifications and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction;
• Whether their child’s teacher is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which state qualifications or licensing criteria have been waived;
• Whether their child is provided services by paraprofessionals and, if so, their qualifications; and
• What baccalaureate degree major the teacher has, any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher and the field of discipline of the certification.
In addition to the information that parents may request, districts must provide to each individual parent:
• Information on the achievement level of the parent’s child in each of the state academic assessments as required under this part; and
• Timely notice that the parent’s child has been assigned or has been taught for four or more consecutive weeks by a teacher who is not highly qualified.
Parents wishing to obtain any of this information should contact the principal of their child’s school.
The Lawrence Union Free School District is an equal opportunity employer. It is the policy of the district to afford equal employment opportunity to qualified individuals regardless of their race, color, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, age, disability, veteran status, military obligations, genetic information, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or to the extent required by all applicable laws. The policy of equal opportunity applies to recruitment, selection, placement, promotion, transfer, compensation, benefits, and termination.
Any person having an inquirie concerning the district's compliance with this policy may contact:
Gary Schall, Superintendent, the Lawrence School District Compliance Officer/Title IX and Sec. 504; Lawrence Public Schools, P.O. Box 477, Lawrence, New York 11559. Telephone 295-7030 or The Office of Civil Rights.
Special Education Services
All responsible public agencies are required to locate, evaluate, and identify children with disabilities who are under the jurisdiction of the agency, regardless of the severity of the disability, including children attending private schools, children who live outside the district but are attending a private school within the district, highly mobile children, such as migrant and homeless children, children who are wards of the state, and children who are suspected of having a disability and in need of special education even though they are advancing from grade to grade. The Lawrence Public School District assures that it will provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to all eligible children with disabilities between the ages of 4 and 21 under its jurisdiction. Disabilities include autism, deaf/blindness, emotional disorders, hearing impairment and deafness, mental retardation/intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment/blindness and young child with a developmental delay.
The Lawrence Public School District assures that personally identifiable information collected, used, or maintained by the agency for the purposes of identification, evaluation, placement or provision of FAPE of children with disabilities may be inspected and/or reviewed by their parents/guardians.
Parents/guardians may request amendment to the educational record if the parent/guardian believes the record is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of their child. Parents have the right to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education or the New York State Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the district to meet the requirements of the FamilyEducational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and subsequent amendments in 1990, 1994, 2001 and 2004 provide considerable protection for the educational needs of homeless children and youth in the United States. Subtitle B of Title VIII states that it is the policy of Congress that:
1. Homeless children and youth have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youth.
2. Residency requirements, practices or policies that may act as a barrier to enrollment will be revised to ensure that homeless children and youth are afforded the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youth.
3. Homelessness alone should not be sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment.
4. Homeless children and youth should have access to the education and other services that such children and youth need to ensure that such children and youth have an opportunity to meet the same challenging state student performance standards to which all students are held.
School districts of each homeless child and youth are required to determine the child's best interest by either:
1. Continuing the child's education in the school of origin:
a. For the remainder of the academic year; or
b. In any case in which a family becomes homeless between academic years, for the following academic year; or
2. Enrolling the child in any school that non-homeless students who live in the attendance area in which the child or youth resides are eligible to attend.
Procedure for Public Complaints
The Board of Education recognizes that situations of concern to parents/guardians or the public may arise in the operation of the district. Such concerns are best resolved through communication with appropriate staff members and officers of the school district, such as the faculty, the principals, the superintendent or the Board of Education. The following steps are the proper procedures to be followed by persons with questions or complaints regarding the operation of the school district:
1. Complaints on behalf of individual students should first be addressed to the teacher.
2. Unsettled matters from (1) above, or problems and questions concerning individual schools, should be directed to the principal of the school.
3. Unsettled matters from (2) above, or problems and questions concerning individual schools, should be directed to the superintendent or his designee.
4. If the matter cannot be settled satisfactorily by the superintendent, it should be brought to the Board of Education.
Questions and comments submitted to the District Clerk in letter form will be brought to the attention of the entire board at a regularly scheduled or called meeting. If necessary, a board hearing will be scheduled to resolve the complaint. However, the decision of the board shall be final except in the case of complaints concerning the administration of federal programs. In that case the complainant may go to the appropriate section of the New York State Department Education and from there on to the United States Secretary of Education.
The board considers it the obligation of the professional and support staff of the district to field the questions of parents/guardians or the public.
Grievance Procedure-Section 504
Step 1: Contact the Building Principal
Many problems can be solved by an informal meeting with the building principal. A parent, student, employee or patron with a grievance is encouraged to first discuss concerns with the building principal in order to resolve the matter promptly. If concerns are resolved at this level, no further action is needed.
Step 2: Submit a Statement of Grievance to the District Section 504 Coordinator
If a parent, student, employee or patron is not able to satisfactorily resolve the grievance informally at the building level, he or she may proceed to Step 2 of the District’s Grievance Procedure by submitting a signed Statement of Grievance to the District Section 504 Coordinator, Lawrence Public Schools, P.O. Box 477, Lawrence, New York 11559.
The Statement of Grievance should describe in detail the nature of the complaint, the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, and the relief requested. The Section 504 Coordinator will investigate the grievance and reply in writing to the grievant within ten (10) school days. If concerns are resolved at this level, no further action is needed.
Step 3: Submit a Letter of Appeal to the Superintendent
If the grievant is not satisfied with the response of the District 504 Coordinator, he or she may submit a signed letter of appeal to the Superintendent of Schools within five (5) school days after receipt of the Coordinator’s decision.
The signed letter requesting appeal should be submitted to the Superintendent, Lawrence Public Schools, P.O. Box 477, Lawrence, New York 11559. The Superintendent or the Superintendent’s designee will meet with all parties involved, conduct an additional investigation if necessary and respond in writing to the grievant within ten (10) school days after the meeting.
Step 4: Submit a Letter of Appeal to the School Board
If the grievant is not satisfied with the response of the Superintendent, he or she may submit a signed letter of appeal to the School Board within five (5) school days after receipt of the Superintendent’s decision. The signed letter requesting appeal should be submitted to the School Board President, Lawrence Union Free School District, P.O. Box 477, Lawrence, New York 11559. The School Board or the School Board’s designee will meet with all parties involved, conduct an additional investigation if necessary, and shall respond in writing to the grievant within ten (10) school days after the meeting. The decision of the School Board is the final step within the School District.
Step 5: Contact the U.S. Department of Education - Office for Civil Rights
At any time in the process, a grievant may file a complaint by contacting the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202-1100