Many federal laws require School Districts to provide students, parents, and/or the community with notices, some of which must be provided at the beginning of the school year. Fortunately, federal agencies often create “sample” notices that can be easily tailored to each individual District. All notices must be written in a language parents can understand, and can be provided via general mail, a publication on the District website, or via email. In addition, several Districts have created a dedicated annual notice page on the District website where all notices are compiled and maintained. Here are some of the annual notices required by federal law. Ensure that your District’s notices comply in case the requirements have changed since your District’s last revision/annual notice update:
- Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—ESSA requires that states and Districts engage families and parents in the work of ensuring positive outcomes for all students. Under ESSA, Districts that receive Title I funds must implement an effective means of outreach to parents of English learners and must publish state and local report cards on their websites.
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)—Pursuant to FERPA, 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. Notice may be provided in any way that is reasonably likely to inform parents of their rights. The annual notification may be published by various means, including any of the following: in a schedule of classes; in a student handbook; in a calendar of school events; on the school’s website; and/or posted in a central school location.
- Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)—PPRA requires Districts to adopt several policies regarding surveys of students, instructional materials, physical examinations, and personal information used for marketing. 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 to the policies.
- Child Nutrition Programs—If Districts participate in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Special Milk Program, they must provide both parents and the community with information about free and reduced-price meals and/or free milk. Districts also must provide parents with an application form. The 2016 amendment to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 also required Districts to inform and update the public about the content and implementation of their local school wellness policies.
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)—AHERA requires Districts to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing building materials, and develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan. Districts must annually notify parents, teachers, and employee organizations in writing of the availability of the management plan and planned or in-progress inspections, re-inspections, response actions, and post-response actions.
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act—The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires Districts, through their homeless student liaisons, to provide public notice of the education rights of the homeless students enrolled in their Districts. Such notice is to be disseminated in places where homeless students receive services under this Act, including schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens.
- 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—The regulations implementing the above statutes require 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. The regulations contain minor differences relating to the required content of the notices and the methods used to publish them. Pursuant to the new Title IX regulations effective August 14, 2020, schools must notify the public of the name/title, office address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the Title IX Coordinator. Additionally, Districts must prominently display the required contact information for the Coordinator on their websites.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—Under the IDEA, Districts must give parents of a child with a disability a copy of its procedural safeguards one time per year, and 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. The notice must fully explain the IDEA’s procedural safeguards in an easily understandable manner.