If your school is subject to the student privacy requirements under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), compliance is not optional. Schools must have processes in place to facilitate compliance, enabling parents and eligible students to request students’ educational records and correct inaccurate information in those records. In addition, schools’ processes must provide a mechanism for obtaining and retaining written parental permission before the school releases any information from the student’s record.
Implementing an electronic document management solution and automated workflows gives schools a simple and secure way to manage document requests and retention under FERPA.
Manual Processes for FERPA Compliance are Inefficient
If your school is still relying on paper documents and processes for maintaining student records, FERPA compliance is likely difficult, time-consuming and labor-intensive. When a parent or student over the age of 18 requests a copy of their record, you need to document that request on paper. Then, you need to pull a paper file and make photocopies of it for inspection. In schools that rely entirely on manual processes for compliance, an administrator must send paper permission forms to the student’s parent or guardian. Then, when the paper form is signed and returned, a designated reviewer needs to confirm receipt of the permission slip and retain it in the school records.
Both of these manual FERPA compliance processes may help you meet the minimum requirements of the law. However, manual processes are also fraught with potential for missing forms, mis-routed documents and lengthy time delays. The good news is that moving to an electronic document management platform can address these issues and more.
Benefits of Using Electronic Forms and Processes
Digitizing paper student records and storing them in Treeno increases the security and auditing for all files exponentially. Being able to control who has access to documents and auditing every user interaction with those files, makes it much easier to comply with FERPA regulations., Treeno’s enterprise functionality provides many additional tools to increase efficiency and streamline manual processes within the school (district).
When student documents are in electronic format, administrators and others can access information directly from their computers or mobile devices, without the need to wait for someone to locate, photocopy and send the file(s). When students graduate from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school, their records can be automatically transferred. Similarly, if a student moves to another school in the district, there is no need to send the paper file.
With respect to FERPA requirements, electronic records and automated workflows facilitate compliance in several ways. Schools can create electronic request forms which parents and eligible students can complete when they want to review or correct information in student files. Equivalently, electronic permission forms can make it simpler for schools to obtain written parental permission before releasing information contained in student records.
Automated workflows can be configured to route request forms and permission slips to specific people within the school or administrative offices, ensuring those documents get to the correct people in a timely manner. With Treeno’s digital forms and automated processes, the school district automatically has the records needed to prove FERPA compliance, should the school face a compliance audit.
FERPA Compliance Isn’t Easy. Treeno Software Can Help!
Is your school staying on top of FERPA requests to review or correct students’ records? Are you looking for a more efficient way to obtain (and retain) parental permission before releasing students’ information? Treeno Software works with school districts across the country, helping them find cost-effective ways of managing day-to-day processes, including FERPA compliance. Contact us today to learn more!