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Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended in Dec. 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) makes it clear that Congress expects local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools receiving federal funds to ensure that parents are actively involved and knowledgeable about their schools and their children’s education. The law requires schools to give parents many different kinds of information and notices in a uniform and understandable format and, to the extent practicable, in a language that the parents can understand. Listed below are some of these required notices that must be made to parents by school districts or individual public schools.
Teacher Qualifications and Highly Effective Teachers
At the beginning of each year, an LEA shall notify parents that they may request, and the LEA will provide, information regarding whether professionals are highly effective, including the qualifications of the student’s teachers and paraprofessionals. This includes information about whether the student’s teacher:
1) has met state qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subject areas in which the teacher provides instruction;
2) is teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which state qualification or licensing criteria have been waived;
3) is teaching in the field of discipline not of the certification of the teacher; and
4) is teaching alongside paraprofessionals and, if so, the paraprofessional’s qualifications [ESSA § 1112(e)(1)(A)].
Districts must give parents annual notice at the beginning of the school year of the specific or approximate dates during the school year when the following activities are scheduled or expected to be scheduled:
activities involving the collection, disclosure, or use of personal student information for the purpose of marketing or selling that information;
administration of surveys containing request for certain types of sensitive information; and
any nonemergency, invasive physical examination that is required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school, scheduled in advance, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of student.
A district must develop and adopt policies regarding the rights of parents to inspect:
third-party surveys before they are administered or distributed to students;
measures to protect student privacy when surveys ask for certain sensitive information;
any instructional materials;
administration of physical examinations or screening of students;
collection, disclosure, or use of personal information from students for the purpose of marketing or selling that information; and
the parental right to inspect any instrument used to collect personal information before it is distributed to students.
Districts must give parents annual notice of an adoption or continued use of such policies and within a reasonable period of time after any substantive change in such policies [20 U.S.C. 1232g].
Public Release of Student Directory Information
Under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), an LEA must provide notice to parents of the types of student information that it releases publicly. This type of student information, commonly referred to as “directory information,” includes such items as names, addresses, and telephone numbers and is information generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The notice must include an explanation of a parent’s right to request that the information not be disclosed without prior written consent.
Additionally, ESSA requires that parents be notified that the school routinely discloses names, addresses, and telephone numbers to military recruiters upon request, subject to a parent’s request not to disclose such information without written consent [§8025].
A single notice provided through a mailing, student handbook, or other method that is reasonably calculated to inform parents of the above information is sufficient to satisfy the parental notification requirements of both FERPA and ESSA. The notification must advise the parent of how to opt out of the public, nonconsensual disclosure of directory information and the method and timeline within which to do so [20 U.S.C. 1232g] [ESEA §8025].
Parent and Family Engagement
A district receiving Title I funds must develop jointly with, agree on with, and distribute to, parents and family members of participating children a written district-level parent and family engagement policy. Each school served under Title I must also develop jointly with, agree on with, and distribute to, parents and family members of participating children a written school-level parent and family engagement policy. If an individual school or district has a parent and family engagement policy that applies to all, it may amend the policy to meet the requirements under the ESEA [ESEA Title I, Part A, §1116(a)(2)] [20 U.S.C. §6318(b); (c)].
Parents shall be notified of the policy in an understandable and uniform format and, to the extent practicable, provided in a language the parents can understand. Such policy shall be made available to the local community and updated periodically to meet the changing needs of parents and the school [ESEA Title I, Part A, §1116(b)(1)].
hold at least one annual meeting for Title I parents;
offer a flexible number of meetings;
involve parents and families in an ongoing manner in the planning, review, and improvement of Title I programs;
provide Title I parents and families with timely information about the programs, a description and explanation of the curriculum, forms of academic assessment and expected levels of student proficiency;
if requested, provide opportunities for regular meetings to discuss decisions related to the education of their children; and
develop a school-parent compact that outlines the responsibilities of each party for improved student academic achievement [ESEA Title I, Part A, §1116(c)].
Report Cards on Statewide Academic Assessment
Each school district that receives Title I, Part A funds must prepare and disseminate an annual report card. Generally, the state or district must include on its report card information about public schools related to student achievement, accountability, teacher qualifications and other required information, as well as any other information that the state or district deems relevant.
These report cards must be concise and presented in an understandable and uniform format accessible to persons with disabilities and, to the extent practicable, provided in a language that parents can understand. In Tennessee, these requirements are met through the state’s report card [ESEA Title I, Part A, §1111(h)(1) and (h)(2)].
Achievement on State Assessment
All schools must provide to parents, teachers, and principals the individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports, which allow specific academic needs to be understood and addressed, and include information on the student’s achievement on academic assessments aligned with state academic achievement standards [ESEA §1111(b)(2)(B)(x)].
National Assessment of Education Progress
Districts, schools, and students may voluntarily participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Parents of children selected to participate in any NAEP assessment must be informed before the assessment is administered that their child may be excused from participation for any reason, is not required to finish any assessment, and is not required to answer any test question. A district must make reasonable efforts to inform parents and the public about their right to access all assessment data (except personally identifiable information), questions, and current assessment instruments [ESEA Title VI, Part C, §411(c)(1); (d)(1)–(2))].
An eligible school operating a schoolwide program shall make the comprehensive plan available to the LEA, parents, and the public. The information contained in such plan shall be in an understandable and uniform format and, to the extent practicable, provided in a language that the parents can understand [20 U.S.C. §6314][ESEA Title I, Part A, §1114].
English Learner Programs
A school district that uses federal funds to provide a language instruction education program for English learners must no later than 30 days after the beginning of the school year inform the parents of each child identified for participation or participating in such a program:
the reasons for the identification of the child as an English learner;
the child’s level of English proficiency;
how that level was determined and the status of the child’s academic achievement;
methods of instruction used in the program in which their child is participating and methods of instruction used in other available programs;
how the program will meet the educational strengths and needs of their child;
how the program will specifically help their child learn English and meet age-appropriate academic achievement standards for grade promotion and graduation;
the specific exit requirements for the program;
in the case of a child with a disability, how the program meets the child’s IEP objectives; and
information about parental rights detailing the right of parents to have their child immediately removed from such program upon their request and the options that parents have to decline to enroll their child in such program or to choose another available program or method of instruction.
For a child not identified as an English learner prior to the beginning of the school year, the district must notify parents within the first two weeks of the child being placed in such a program [ESEA Title I, Part A, §1112].
To be eligible for McKinney-Vento funds, the school must provide written notice at the time any child seeks enrollment in the school, and at least twice annually while the child is enrolled in the school, to the parent or guardian or unaccompanied youth that, shall be signed by the parent or guardian or unaccompanied youth; that sets forth the general rights provided; and specifically states:
the choice of schools homeless children are eligible to attend;
that no homeless child is required to attend a separate school for homeless children;
that homeless children shall be provided comparable services, including transportation services, educational services, and meals; and that homeless children should not be stigmatized by school personnel
Other information of Federal Programs and Initiatives can be found below:
Elementary and Secondary Education Act
This federal statute requires school systems to provide numerous notices to parents, the public, and others. Appendix B (pages 34-39 therein) of the U.S. Department of Education's non-regulatory guidance document, Parental Involvement Title I, Part A (April 2004), contains a chart of the key parental notice requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA and identifies who should issue the notices and when they must be issued.
The description of each notice can be found by visiting the following link:
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
This federal statute requires school systems to provide parents/guardians and eligible students (students at least 18 years of age) with an annual notice of their rights to inspect and review education records, amend education records, consent to disclose personally identifiable information in education records, and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
The notice must include the procedure to request and review education records; as well as a statement that records may be disclosed to school officials without prior written consent. This statement should define a school official and also what constitutes a legitimate educational interest. Notice may be provided in any way that is reasonably likely to inform parents of their rights, and must effectively notify parents who have a primary or home language other than English and parents/guardians or eligible students who are disabled.
A model notification tool developed by the U.S. Department of Education can be found by visiting the following link:
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act
This federal statute permits all school systems to disclose the educational records of students, without the written permission of the parents, to an agency caseworker or a representative of the state or local child welfare agency, or a tribal authority, determined to have the right to such access and so long as that agency or authority is legally responsible for the care and protection of the student. These agencies cannot further disclose these records to other parties not authorized by FERPA.
Please be aware that the model notification (referenced above) does not currently include the new exception under the Uninterrupted Scholars Act.
Under FERPA, school systems are permitted to disclose directory information if they have given public notice to parents/guardians and eligible students of what information has been designated as directory information, and when and how parents/guardians and eligible students may opt out of allowing the district to disclose their directory information.
Finally, under ESEA, school districts must provide notice that they routinely release the names, addresses, and phone numbers of secondary students to military recruiters unless parents opt out. School districts may provide this military recruiter notice as part of their general FERPA notice.
To view the U.S. Department of Education's Model Notice for Directory Information, please visit the following link:
Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
This federal statute requires school systems to adopt policies regarding surveys of students, instructional materials, physical examinations, personal information used for marketing, and the like related to students. Parents/guardians must be notified of these policies at least annually at the beginning of the school year and within a reasonable time period after any substantial change is made to the policies.
To view the U.S. Department of Education's Model Notification of PPRA Related Rights, please visit the following link:
If your school system plans to:
Administer any survey about any of the eight topics listed in the statute (political beliefs, income, sex behavior or attitudes, etc.);
Use students' personal information for selling or marketing purposes; or
Administer certain non-emergency, invasive physical examinations, systems must directly notify parents at least annually at the beginning of the school year of the specific or approximate dates when these activities are scheduled or expected to be scheduled.
To view the U.S. Department of Education's PPRA Model Notice and Consent/Opt-Out for Specific Activities, please visit the following link:
Student Nutrition Programs
School systems that participate in the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, or the Special Milk Program, close to the start of each school year, must provide both parents/guardians and the public with information about free and reduced price meals and/or free milk. School systems also must provide parents/guardians with the appropriate application form. School systems shall not disclose children's free and reduced eligibility status, unless the requestor of such information falls into one of the categories specified in the National School Lunch Act.
Please note that the Eligibility Manual for School Meals, developed by the USDA, provides information on the federal requirements regarding the determination and verification of eligibility for free and reduced price meals in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. This manual also includes a link to an online application. The manual also includes a chart describing to whom (see page 71) and the required conditions that must exist in order for information regarding free and reduced eligibility to be disclosed (see pages 69-78, Appendix C).
To view the USDA's Eligibility Guidance for School Meals Manual, please visit the following link:
To view the USDA's Sample Family Friendly Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application Package (available in 34 translations), please visit the following link:
To view the USDA's Prototype Household Application for SY2014-15, "Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application and Verification Forms, please visit the following link:
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
This federal statute requires school systems to notify and update the parents, students and the general public about the content and implementation of the local school wellness policy. School systems must also periodically measure and report on implementation of the local school wellness policy, including:
The extent to which schools under the jurisdiction of the local school district are in compliance with the local school wellness policy;
The extent to which the local school wellness policy of the local district compares to model local school wellness policies; and
A description of the progress made in attaining the goals of the local school wellness policy.
Please note that school systems can enact a requirement for informing and updating the public about the content and implementation of the local school wellness policy. This can be done by developing or disseminating printed or electronic materials to families of school children and other members of the school community at the start of the school year. School systems are encouraged to post the local school wellness policy and an assessment of its implementation on the school system or school website. Information must be made available to the public in an accessible, easily understood manner.
For additional information, please visit the following link:
Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
This federal statute requires school systems to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing building materials, and develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan. School systems must annually notify parents, teachers, and employee organizations in writing of the availability of the management plan and planned or in-progress inspections, re-inspections, response actions, and post-response actions, including periodic re-inspection and surveillance activities.
To view the Model Annual AHERA Notice Letter, please visit the following link:
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
This federal statute requires homeless student liaisons to provide public notice of the education rights of homeless students. Such notice is to be disseminated in places where homeless students receive services under this Act, including schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens. The notice must be in a "manner and form" understandable to homeless students and their parents/guardians, "including, if necessary and to the extent feasible," in their native language.
Please note that the National Center for Homeless Education provides free Educational Rights posters (in black/white or color; English/Spanish; parents/students) that can be downloaded / ordered at:
Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, the Age Discrimination Act, Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, and the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act
Several federal statutes protect the rights of beneficiaries not to be discriminated against in programs or activities receiving financial assistance. The following statutes prohibit discrimination:
Title VI (race, color, ethnicity, and national origin);
Title IX (sex and pregnancy); Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (disability); and
The Age Discrimination Act (age).
To view the U.S. Department of Education's Notice of Non-Discrimination, please visit the following link:
Please note that the notice must include the identity and contact information of the coordinators designated to handle complaints under Title IX, Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination Act.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
This federal statute requires school systems to provide parents/guardians of a student with a disability a copy of its procedural safeguards annually; but also upon initial referral or parental request for an evaluation, the filing of a first request for a due process hearing, a disciplinary action constituting a change in placement, and at the request of a parent.
A school system is permitted to place a copy of the procedural safeguards on its website. The notice must fully explain the IDEA's procedural safeguards in an easily understandable manner, and in the native language of the parents unless it is clearly not feasible to do so. Please note that parents/guardians may elect to receive the procedural safeguards notice and other notices under IDEA by e-mail, if the school system permits.
To view the U.S. Department of Education's Model Form: Procedural Safeguards Notice, please visit the following link:
Please note that the procedural safeguards notice requirements in the IDEA also apply to parents of homeless children with disabilities. For more information, please visit the following link: