Personnel got discipline info from child's file

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

  1. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    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!
     
  2.  
  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Feb 22, 2011

    Need more info.
     
  4. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 22, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 22, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    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

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,950
    Likes Received:
    2,104

    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

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    1

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Feb 23, 2011

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

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,950
    Likes Received:
    2,104

    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

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    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

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,738
    Likes Received:
    1,656

    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

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,738
    Likes Received:
    1,656

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,950
    Likes Received:
    2,104

    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

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    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

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    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

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    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

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    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.
     
  22. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,765
    Likes Received:
    1

    Feb 23, 2011

    Attendance records are also part of the school record and reported as such. I really don't think attendance is confidential - our coaches have access to attendance, our central office employees report our attendance to the state, probation dept has access, . . I still don't understand what your family has to do with this issue . . .:dizzy:
     
  23. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    4,344
    Likes Received:
    984

    Feb 23, 2011

    Maybe my eyes are just tired and I'm not understanding this well but you keep saying "the parent". Is the parent you or someone else?
     
  24. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2,233
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    Say my child is suspended from his school. I contact personnel and ask for x days off. I do not see why personnel needs to contact my son's principal and ask about the dates of the suspension. I would not want my son's principal knowing that suspending my son caused me to have to take some days off from the same employee he works for. He shouldn't have to think about it.

    If personnel wants proof that I had to take days off for a particular reason, they should ask me to provide the proof.

    I wouldn't get FERPA involved, though. Times are too scary as far as employment goes, and you have to pick your battles. This one doesn't seem like it's worth raising Cain. You're annoyed because your son is having so much trouble, and it's affecting your employment. Keep your eyes focused on the real problem.
     
  25. a2z

    a2z Maven

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,738
    Likes Received:
    1,656

    Feb 23, 2011

    Our schools give opt-out forms for directories. No one is placed in the directory unless the parent gives permission.
     
  26. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    My apologies, entirely my mistake regarding the attendance records. I remember reading that now in the directory information exemption.

    I still don't see an exemption for discipline information.

    Thank you for your help.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Feb 23, 2011

    I was referring specifically to the part that referenced "dates of attendance".
     
  28. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,428
    Likes Received:
    117

    Feb 23, 2011

    I think what the personnel department should have done was ask the employee to furnish documentation that the child was suspended.

    They chose sneaky spying instead.
     
  29. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Feb 23, 2011

    Here's my thoughts:

    First of all, if this parent is you, can you stop referring to yourself in the third person (or is it second?). It's confusing, and causing your point to be lost. Just say "I asked for time off" or "My spouse asked for time off".

    Second, if you or your spouse put on the form that you needed time off for your child's suspension, you have put that information out there. If you didn't want anyone to know, you should have called it personal time. If they then questioned it, you could have furnished written documentation of your child's absence from school.

    Third, who suspended the child? Wouldn't that be the principal? So since the P is already privy to that information, why would it matter if he told the personnel department that yes, indeed, a parent will need time off to stay with the child?

    Fourth, I think you should give your principal a little more credit. To think that he won't help your child now that the child has been suspended is a bit much. Likely, you are not the first family that personnel has contacted him about.

    Fifth, if personnel has made this a practice around your school, it likely means that there is reason to-not necessarily with YOU (or your spouse), but maybe others. They would need to treat everyone equitably, so if Joe down the hall is calling in with bogus reasons for absence, then they might have to check up on everyone.

    Bottom line: if you (or your spouse) had not listed the suspension as reason for needing time off, how would they have known to call the principal?
     
  30. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,813
    Likes Received:
    52

    Feb 23, 2011

    I agree with kcjo! (on all 5 points--especially number one!)
     
  31. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    Sorry for using the word parent. I must be in privacy mode. I am the parent.

    It's a big deal to my family. Spouse and I have anguished over the position this puts us in and haven't hardly been able to sleep.

    I'm pretty sure it's illegal and for good reason. We though it stunk before we even heard of FERPA. No parent should have to navigate this road and make these considerations.

    We just want this employment practice to stop. We think it is a clear violation of FERPA. We don't want anyone to be fired.

    We have taken our concerns before the district officials who have stated that they have investigated and are doing nothing wrong. They claim exemption under FERPA but won't quote the passage containing the exemption when asked.

    That fact alone and the nature in which they express it show us that they don't value our child's or their employee's privacy.

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts and am considering them greatly whether I agree or disagree.

    We don't want to get anyone fired. In this case our damages could be worse. Economic times ARE tough, especially in the employment sector.

    What if my spouse get's fired because of these illegal actions in the future? What about the other 1,000 plus employees in the district and their precarious employment situation?

    All employment issues aside, we keep coming back to asking ourselves: What is best for the children?

    FERPA's sole purpose is to protect the children. Whether you like FERPA or not, it is the law and should be followed.

    Regardless of FERPA, how hard would it be to change their personnel procedures in order to avoid these types of situations?

    There are quite a few private companies that seem to get by reasonably well without the ability to access student records. Why should they?
     
  32. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,813
    Likes Received:
    52

    Feb 23, 2011

    I am sorry. I am not trying to downplay your feelings, but this to me is not a big deal. Most schools make their employees show why they are out of school. I have had to supply funeral pamphlets, doctor's notes, and even a show order to prove my family was at a national show for livestock.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Feb 23, 2011

    There are certain things worth fighting for. In the grand scheme of things, this does not seem to be one of those things, at least based on what has been described here. I think you need to let this one go.
     
  34. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    All good points kcjo13. I appreciate you bringing them up. And all of the other help here as well. No matter how many times I read FERPA I don't see an exemption for these types of actions. Not anything remotely close.

    They should have requested it from the parent instead of breaking the law. Sneaky is one thing, violation of federal law is another. All FERPA and child issues aside, one has to wonder what EMPLOYEE privacy laws are being broken if this is how they interpret FERPA.

    The Principal doesn't need to be left with the impression that the Parent is under investigation for any reason. Whether that impression is left should not even have to be argued, we think the practice is against the law.

    We'll probably never know. I hope you're right, but I shouldn't have to wonder. We are borderline already with multiple discipline instances. The principal has really gone above and beyond. We didn't think the child would be allowed back in school from this last suspension before all of this happened. We've never complained to the school about anything. We've always given the benefit of the doubt to the educators. We used to be proud of our school.

    This is a regular practice of the district personnel department which supervises 1,000+ employees. They say they do it to prevent the child's parent from lying about it on the form. It doesn't matter if they apply this illegal practice fairly or not, it is illegal. Well, the act of the principal disclosing the information when personnel calls is illegal we think. But we don't think the problem is with the Principal. If my boss called and asked me for information I would give it to them and not ask too many questions. The principal may have innocently assumed that Personnel had a real reason. I'm operating under the assumption that the Principal is the gatekeeper of the student record and should have asked personnel if they were seeking the information for an educational purpose. Regardless if it was the boss or not.

    Besides our contention that the exchange between the personnel department and the Principal is illegal, they could have just asked for the parent copy of the form. That's what the other 99% of the other employers do.

    We value all input and are having some honest discussions as a result. That's why we present this in an educator's forum as parents. We're angry and don't want to do something stupid. If we haven't already done damage.
     
  35. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Feb 23, 2011

    If this bothers you so much, file a complaint against the administrator with the central office. Arguing about it here isn't going to do you any good. Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.
     
  36. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    Those are all reasonable requests I feel. All they had to do was ask us. There is certainly no need to unlawfully use the child's confidential school record to EVEN POSSIBLY take money away from the child's family. Or is that somehow in the best interest of the child?
     
  37. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    Thanks Caesar, we've already done that to no avail.
     
  38. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2,233
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 23, 2011

    Please think twice about rocking the boat. Yes, I agree that they shouldn't have done that. But don't rock so hard that you end up in the water without a job and having to fight this battle in court. It's way too hard as it is to keep employed in education. Districts are looking for anything that will cut the labor force.
     
  39. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Feb 23, 2011

    Just answer one question for me-how did the personnel department know to call the principal? What gave them the idea that your child had been suspended?
     
  40. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,950
    Likes Received:
    2,104

    Feb 23, 2011

    Wait. Where did money come into this? Does this have to do with the need to take time off/use of personal days? The only time I've seen money deducted is when someone has used up ALL their personal and banked sick days...and even then, there's leeway for real emergencies... Is that what this is about?

    Pn...we are professional educators, not lawyers. You have been given a lot of thoughts on how this situation could have been better handled, you've read of how asking for documentation for leave is not out of the norm, we've shared thoughts about how since this was a 'within district' situation that it 'feels ' different (at least for us) than if this was an outside entity calling for the same info...seems as if this situation is on the heels of a difficult period with your child's school experience...all of it leaves questions in our minds as in yours, I'm sure. We are not your judge and jury...nor should we be your counsel...since this conversation was your only conversation on these threads, it makes it even harder to get a 'handle' on the whole picture...I wish you and your family peace...and I wish for nothing but the best learning experience for your child...that is where you should perhaps focus your energies...outside of this current distraction... Good luck to you. :angel:
     
  41. pnwest

    pnwest Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 24, 2011

    We appreciate everyone's input. We've gotten some really good feedback that has caused some deep discussion between us. Thank you.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. waterfall,
  2. RisyFLA,
  3. Backroads
Total: 377 (members: 4, guests: 355, robots: 18)
test