Ask AF: Privacy at School

What can parents do to protect an adoptee's privacy at school? Our expert answers.

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Q: My child receives special-education services, and his Individualized Education Program (IEP) mentions the fact that he was adopted. Why would this be included? I asked that it be purged from his record, but the school hasn’t responded. What can I do?

A: The only reason I can think of that a child’s adoption would come up in an IEP context would be that it played a role in the psychological evaluation and led to corresponding therapy or behavioral supports. If this was the case, the school may argue that the information is relevant and should remain in the IEP. If your child’s adoption is not directly related to the goals stated in his IEP, or the services he receives, however, the school should honor your request and remove the information. Either way, they should get back to you with an explanation.

I would make a formal, written request, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), for a copy of your child’s complete education file. Review it carefully, and request any redactions or amendments in a second written request. In the event that the school does not agree to your changes, you may have to make your case to a state-appointed hearing officer.

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