Federal law requires school districts to provide students, parents, and the public with a variety of annual notices. This newsflash briefly reviews the requirements for notices to parents. While you may have already distributed your District’s notices for the 2015-2016 school year, you can review your notices for compliance. All notices must be written in a language parents can understand, to the extent practicable, and can be provided via general mail, a publication on your website, or email. Some districts have created an Annual Notice page on the District website where all notices can be compiled and maintained.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires school districts to provide numerous notices to parents, the public, and others. In addition, districts need to notify parents in a uniform, understandable format, of the schools that the district has identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. Have you done this?
Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, parents should be notified annually of policies adopted regarding surveys of students, instructional materials, physical examinations, and personal information used for marketing. At the beginning of the school year, if not sooner, Districts must disclose their plans to use students’ personal information for selling or marketing purposes, surveying students, or administering certain non-emergency, invasive physical examinations. Have you done this?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires districts to notify parents of their right to, and the procedure for, inspecting, reviewing, and amending education records. The notice should explain what a “school official” is, what constitutes a legitimate educational interest, and how to consent to disclose personally identifiable information in education records, if the person so chooses. A district is obliged to notify parents of their right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Notice must also be provided that districts regularly release information to military recruiters. Have you done this?
Child Nutrition Programs. If school districts participate in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Special Milk Program, near the beginning of each school year they must provide both parents and the public with information about free and reduced price meals and/or free milk. Have you done this?
Under The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, districts must inform and update the public about school wellness policies. Have you done this?
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates that districts provide public notice of the education rights of homeless students to be distributed in places such as schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens. Have you done this?
Under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, school districts must inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing building materials, and develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan. Districts must annually notify parents, teachers, and employees in writing of the availability of the management plan, as well as planned or in-progress inspections, re-inspections, response actions, and post-response actions, including periodic re-inspection and surveillance activities. Have you done this?
Districts must provide a copy of their procedural safeguards to parents of children with a disability, as set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Stock and Leader recommends that districts also post the procedural safeguards on their website. Have you done this?
Finally, districts need to notify students, parents, and others that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, disability, and age, and that they provide equal access to the use of school property to the Boy and Girl Scouts and other designated youth groups. Have you done this?
Each of these federal laws guiding public education have many nuances; model notices are available for many of these requirements. If you have any questions about what you have read and whether your district is in compliance, please feel free to contact the School Law Group.