Haase said similarly, student records have a general confidentiality statute wherein only the student and their parents, or another authorized person, have access. She explained that student discipline matters need to be kept private, and that in the case of a long-term suspension or expulsion, the student receives a hearing in front of a hearing officer, and can appeal the results to the school board.
“I bet I’ve had 10 in 25 years, so it’s not many, but it does happen,” Haase said. “This is the federal law that requires us to keep student records confidential. So the fact that there’s a student statute of confidentiality in state and federal, if you violate the federal law, the feds can take away all of your federal funding, which is all your special ed dollars, all your school lunch dollars, your title dollars. It’s an enormous consequence that I am very mindful of.”
Haase said that no Nebraska school has lost federal funding due to student confidentiality, but that Chicago Public Schools had this consequence for one year.
Haase recommended that each school board member carry a copy of the district’s complaint policy, so that in the event a member of the public wants to discuss an issue with a teacher or student, the board member can give them a tool to help solve their problem.
“I will listen to you, but I have to remain partial if this comes to the board as a formal complaint, grievance, whatever that may be,” Trusty summarized.