Just this week I was informed by one of my son's teachers that during the last 6 weeks of the school year, our superintendent of our school district investigated a rumor in our town that was pointed at my son. We live in a small town in Texas, population 2,700. We have 968 students total in our district.The teacher, who is a friend, just happened to mention to me the other day that she was so angry that our superintendent had responded to the rumors in town and questioned her about our son getting caught cheating in her class, being given a 0, and subsequently this teacher changing the 0 to an incomplete to allow him to play baseball in the playoffs. All of which was untrue. I was shocked because I knew nothing about any of this. The teacher was likewise shocked because she just assumed that as his parents, we had been advised of the situation.I talked to our superintendent and she told me that she had the right to investigate any rumors in the community, has no responsibility to inform a parent, and I had no right to know who brought this to her attention.My question is can our superintendent talk to members of the community about our son's grades & conduct without informing us? Can she act on rumors & hearsay from people & not at least let us know?As I said, all turned out to be false, but it still seems wrong that we were not told?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Texas
Talking to superintendent of school district
Are you certain that the superintendant actually discussed your son's grades and progress with people in the community? Or was the focus of her inquiry limited to his own teachers and counselors?
Our superintendent told the teacher that members of the community & particularly parents on the baseball team had come to her and told her that my son had been given a 0 for cheating and that the teacher had given my son an incomplete to allow him to play baseball. She was expressly concerned that my son had been given privileges because he plays baseball. He is a freshman on varsity & so there has been controversy.I truly believe as does this teacher, that the inquiry was directed at my son because of parental pressure on the superintendent. The teacher did not feel that it was about her.
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which has been adopted in TX, none of the teachers or administrators have a right to share information in or about a student's school records with anyone outside of the school without the permission of the parent or the child (if child is over 18 and can give permission). Even within the school, only those teachers and administrators who have a "legitimate educational purpose" are to be informed of or told of anything in the student's record. Under the Act, certain information such as the student's name, age, address and picture can be shared with the other teachers, administrators and the public (this is called the "public information"), -- however, things such as grades, counseling records, athletic records are supposed to be kept confidential. Obviously, the level of violation here made by the superintendent is going to boil down to exactly what the super was saying to people and what people the super was saying it to, but certainly if the super was discussing something as sensitive as possible cheating which can affect a grade, the super should have informed you (as parents) to get your permission and keep you informed of the results of her little informal investigation. So, depending upon what was said, who it was said to and the manner in which it was said will have a lot to do with whether or not you and your child may have a potential lawsuit here and I suggest that you visit a local attorney (I suggest that you seek one out in the next county over so that you are not dealing with an attorney who may have some involvement with your school district) -- you can find such an attorney by contacting the county bar association and asking for a referral to an attorney who handles education law and privacy issues (you also may have a common law claim of invasion of privacy here, as well as possible slander charges if what was being said turns out to be half truths and/or lies) . You will be given several names of attorneys and you can go from there (you should mention the federal student privacy acts to the attorney as the first avenue of inquiry that you would like to pursue). If you are uncertain if you want to pursue this as far as a lawsuit or you would like an immediate response then I suggest that you write a letter of complaint to the school committee and town/city council about the behavior of the superintendent in these matters and again cite the federal privacy laws and in your letter state that you believe that what occurred in this instance was a violation of the federal student privacy laws and rises to the level of common law invasion of privacy - and make sure that you put into the letter that you DID discuss this with the superintendent who felt that he/she had the right to go and talk with anyone in the community about anything to do with any student in the school system and there were no laws or restraints on her right to do so.
Please let me know if you have any further questions. THANK YOU
15 years exp all aspects of general law
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