Personnel got discipline info from child's file

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by pnwest, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2011

    And they used that info to investigate a leave claim made by the child's parent, who is a District employee. Child is in public elementary school.

    Does that sound right?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2011

    Need more info.
     
  4. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

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    Parent made claim for leave to take care of suspended child. Personnel called child's Principal and was given dates of suspension. There was no educational purpose for the call or need for the info.
     
  5. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

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    They say they were merely confirming information already provided by the parent. All agree to this at a minimum.

    We worry what our difficult son's Principal thinks of our family now that School Personnel is calling and investigating claims made by the parent, whether they are true or not. Why does the Principal need to know of the parent's employment claims?

    Will the Principal continue to work so hard to help the child?
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    I'm sorry. Maybe it's just early in the morning, but I'm pretty lost.

    As I understand it, a child got suspended. The parent, who works for the district, wanted to take time to stay home and care for the child during the time he wasn't in school. Personnel called the Principal to verify that the child was, in fact, suspended during that time period. The principal verified the information.

    Is that pretty much it?

    I'm not sure of the question. The principal already knew the child ws suspended. It seems obvious to me that, if the child was young, someone would have to be home with him.

    As to why Personnel would check the dates, perhaps there's more to the story?
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    In my district, they can ask for documentation for certain kinds of leave...seems that this was an 'in-district' matter so I'm not quite sure what the controversy is...was the teacher being truthful about the dates needed off? Is there reason for personnel/board office to doubt this teacher? Was proper protocol followed in the suspension?
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That's what I was thinking-- that it was along the lines of requiring a doctor's note.

    "Will the Principal continue to work so hard to help the child?" This part has me lost.
     
  9. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Another thing that confuses me....a child's file is a record that both the school district and the parent have access to. So, I don't see the big deal about looking into the child's file.

    Unless, of course, the employee was let go....
     
  10. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I am as lost as everyone else, esp. the statement I bolded. Why are you worried what the P will think about your family???:dizzy:

    Anyone that works in our district has access to our attendance program. Within the program, all absences are recorded with reason such as medical, parent excused, and yes supensions. I can see how many days a student is supended but reasons for the supension is not listed. So, again confused as to why anyone would be upset with the phone call
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    And I must admit that the "whether they are true or not" part has me wondering.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    If all is on the 'up and up', there is nothing to worry about. If the employee in question was not truthful about the leave time requested, s/he has more to be worried about than what the principal thinks...:(
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Feb 23, 2011

    I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one confused by the original posts. I held off on my own reply to see what others were thinking. I have to say I agree with everyone else.

    This sounds like Personnel investigating an employee's reason for taking a leave. An action they certainly have every right to do.

    Personnel was NOT given access to the child's file, they simply asked the Principal "Was Student X suspended on dates Y through Z?" The Principal confirmed the information was accurate. No breach of confidentiality or professional protocol in this exchange either.

    WHY is Personnel investigating the employee's claim of leave? We don't have enough information, but I apparently they felt they had sufficient reason to question the absence.

    What does this action have to do with how the Principal will treat any OTHER student (or parent) in their school? I admit I am completely lost by that question as well.

    This is a case of the district following up on an employee, not a parent. The distinction between those two labels is important in this case. Unless the OP is also an employee of the school or district in question, there is no reason to think the actions of Personnel will have any effect on the Principal's actions or opinions towards the OP or their son - at least none that I can see.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Feb 23, 2011

    Since the principal of pnwest's school was seeking confidential information regarding a child for which he had no educational need to investigate this could be deemed a violation. This principal should have sought proof via the OP, not through the available educational channels.

    I agree, OP. Just because the principal can use channels to get to information about students who are not under his responsibility does not mean he is allowed to do so. There was no educational need for him to see this child's file.
     
  15. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    I would have an issue with this if the principal replied "Yeah, we suspended little Johnny. He was smoking in the bathroom with some of his friends and cussed out the teacher that caught him."
    The parent's school just called to verify that the student was suspended, they didn't get any private information, just verified what was already given to them by the parent.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Then let's change the situation a bit. Instead of the OP staying home from work to stay with the suspended child, the OP's spouse stayed home. The OP's spouse works for a company. This company calls investigates to find out what school the child goes to. The company then calls the child's school to get information regarding whether or not the child was suspended. The school gives out that information to the company.

    The only difference between the two scenarios is the first one the employeer has connections and the second one the employeer does not have connections. The principal of the first school is calling as an employeer, not as someone who has need of the child's educational records for educational purposes. There lies the problem. The capacity of the role of the principal when he was making the call.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    I think it's different because it's 'in house'...the principal works for the board office as does the employee. It might have been better protocol for the personnel office to ask the teacher to provide 'proof' of why the time off was needed, though...
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    I don't think it's inappropriate for an employer, any employer, to ask for proof when an employee requests leave for a specific, documented purpose.

    If you're taking sick days, your employer can ask for a doctor's note. If you're asking for days off to stay at home with your suspended kid, I think it's not unreasonable to ask for proof of that.

    I agree with czacza that it would have been a better idea for the employer to ask the employee to provide evidence, such as a notice of suspension. As it is, however, a phone call was just as easy in this situation since everyone involved worked for the same entity. Whether the employee had produced a notice of suspension or the principal had confirmed the dates of the suspension, the information remains the same. It seems like an insignificant point to argue.

    I agree that the OP has included a number of confusing comments about the situation, and I'm not sure how relevant they are. I believe that there must be more to this story.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    He didn't.

    "Parent made claim for leave to take care of suspended child. Personnel called child's Principal and was given dates of suspension.

    The parent apparently let the his or her employer know the child had been suspended and needed a caregiver at home. (Had the parents not said the child was suspended, there would have been no reason to suspect that and to call the principal. So apparently the reason for the child's absence wasn't a big secret.)The employer called the principal to confirm the dates.

    Or at least, that's what I'm getting from the information provided.
     
  20. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

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    Yes, that's correct. And I can't blame you for thinking that because at first glance it doesn't look like anything has been done incorrectly.

    Personnel checked because they are in "aggressive mode" to save money. They say it is normal procedure.

    Why does the personnel department have access to the child's student record.? I can understand why the parents and principal do.

    Now we think we know why it smells so bad. We discovered FERPA and have read through it several times.We think that the release of the information by the principal to personnel violated FERPA. No school employee is to disclose information in the student record to another school employee without an educational purpose that directly benefits the child. If the suspension dates were on the front page of yesterday's newspaper and are public information, the principal may still not disclose the child's discipline dates when personnel calls. They need to buy a newspaper instead. At least that's how we are reading FERPA.

    I don't know about attendance records specifically, but I would think that attendance records are also part of the student record and not to be disclosed without the consent of the parent unless it is being used for an educational purpose. I saw no exemption under FERPA that would allow it unless the attendance info is being used in a manner that educationally benefits the child. If the school janitor called and asked the principal for my child's absence dates I believe FERPA protects that info from being released if it;s not for educational purposes. Same as with the discipline information. It is no business of the janitor. Attendance information is not public information.

    We feel that the principal committed the actual violation. But our main concern is with personnel and their open practice of seeking this confidential record information. Can the Boeing airplane company call the principal and confirm the child's discipline information? No. Can the school cafeteria worker. No. The school personnel deoartment should not have that right either.

    We're concerned that the Principal may now feel that our family is dishonest just because of the fact that Personnel was investigating the parent for some reason. Our child has been a challenge for the principal and they have worked VERY hard to help our child and family. Will they still make this extra effort. We hope so, but who knows?

    Personnel has no business telling the principal about the Parent's employment claims or the fact that they claimed leave at all. The principal is a fellow employee of the parent as well. Why should that fellow employee be told about the parent's private personnel actions?

    In the course of work, the principal has to rely upon the parent's honesty in making student disciplinary reports in the capacity as a co- worker. Will statements made by the parent now be questioned by the principal? Regardless of the merit of the questions, should they even have to arise in the first place?

    I understand, especially because of the way I worded it. There was no lying going on at all. I only made that statement because whether the dates matched what the parent put down on the form is not the point. The point is that confidential school record information was disclosed by the principal to Personnel for non-edu purposes.

    FERPA states that student record disclosures must be authorized by the parent. There are exceptions. The first exception listed says the info may be shared within the educational institution, but only if for educational reasons.

    We contend this info is in the discilpline file and is therefore part of the student record.

    But that's what we THINK. All comments are welcomed and greatly appreciated
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 23, 2011

    Does this section apply here?

    Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.
     

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