Special Education Records Request 

Your Right to Make a Special Education Records Request 

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 Make a Records Request? 

Consider requesting your child’s records at least once every year to stay up to date.  In additional, 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, evaluations, progress, or IEP.

What is a Special Education Record? 

Under the IDEA, 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 and protocols are included as records request, you are entitled to all types of related material.    

What if I don’t understand My Child’s Records?  

Once you review your child’s file, your school must respond 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 District Need to Respond to My Request?  

Your school must comply with your special education records request without unnecessary delay and before any IEP/ARD meeting, any resolution session, or any due process hearing.  However, in all cases, after making the request, the district must comply within your states timeline for a records request.  Please note, in California it is 5 calendar days.  In Texas, it is 45 days.  Be sure to confirm your states timeline.  

Under IDEA, a “day” means a calendar day unless otherwise specified.  

May the District Charge a Fee for the Records Request? 

School districts are allowed to charge a fee for copies of records made for parents.  however, they may not charge for searching or retrieving our child’s records.  In other words, if you inspect and review records (and are not asking for copies), the school may not charge you.  Some districts will provide a copy of records at no charge, while others will charge parents.  

What Prevents Me from Reviewing Records? 

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, i.e., place a financial burden on the family, let the school know that in your special education records request.  Subsequently, the school district may not charge a fee.   

Click here to download a SAMPLE Records Request Form to get you started!