Special Education Records Requests in Texas Schools
The law is clear that you are an equal member of your child’s IEP committee. You also have a right to be an active participant in your child’s services, support, and programming. That level of involvement in your child’s education is not possible unless you have a complete understanding of your child’s education record.
Your Right to Special Education Records
Your school district must allow you, as a parent or guardian, to inspect and review any education records relating to your child. For example, that includes any relevant records collected, maintained, or used by the school district.
When Should I Request Records?
Consider requesting your child’s records at least once every year to stay up to date. In addition, consider requesting any new records before each IEP meeting Most importantly, a request should be made anytime you are missing essential documents concerning your child’s program, progress, or IEP.
What Do “Special Education Records” Include?
A special education record includes a broad category of material. For instance, all files, documents, and other materials, maintained by the district, which contain information directly related to your child, are considered records.
Moreover, all instructional materials, teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, supplementary materials, assessments, or evaluations are included as records. When you make a special education records request, you are entitled to all types of related material.
What if I Do Not Understand My Child’s Records?
This right is often overlooked, but once you review your child’s file, your school
to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records. In short, you cannot be an equal participant in your child’s program without a full understanding of your child’s records.
When Does My School Need to Respond to My Request?
Your school must comply with your special education records request without unnecessary delay and any ARD meeting, any resolution session, or any due process hearing. However, in all cases, after making the request, the district must comply within 45 days.
Under the IDEA, a “day” means a calendar day unless otherwise indicated.
Can My School Charge a Fee for the Records?
School districts are allowed to charge a fee for copies of records made for parents. However, they may not charge for searching or retrieving your child’s records. In other words, if you inspect and review records (and are not asking for copies), the school may not charge you.
- Retrieving Records: No fee may be charged
- Searching for Records: No fee may be charged
- Copying Records: Fee may be charged in some cases (see below)
What if I Cannot Afford the School Fee?
No fee may be charged for copies where that cost would effectively prevent you from exercising your right to inspect and review your child’s records.
For instance, if a fee would mean that you would be unable to review records, let the school know that in your special education records request. Subsequently, the school may not impose a fee.