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Student Records, Retention, Spring Cleaning

Published May 2019

Many school districts are going through mountains of student records trying to determine what, if anything, the district can get rid of. Top 10 things to note:

  1. The record is a historical record of a student’s education.
  2. The permanent records are just that – permanent - and these should be kept permanently.
  3. You can have electronic records as long as they are kept permanently and have a back-up.
  4. The cumulative records may be kept for a length of time as determined locally by your board. However, if the permanent records include cumulative records then you should keep those cumulative records as well.
  5. If you are cleaning out and disposing of cumulative records make sure you are physically destroying or wiping out the record.
  6. Special Education information should be maintained in accordance with IDEA.
  7. Don’t withhold a student record or refuse to transfer a record for failure to pay fees.
  8. Make sure to comply with FERPA regarding employee access. Only employees with a substantial educational interest should access to the record. This includes allowable access in PowerSchool and other applications.
  9. The student’s record must contain their legal name however if the student goes by another name this may be noted in the record with an asterisks next to the preferred name. Directories, yearbooks, and classroom rosters may be the preferred name. If your system does not allow for a preferred name then you should work with the developer to change this.
  10. If there is a reorganization or dissolution, clearly communicate where the records will go and be stored moving forward. In most cases the records should go to the newly formed district or to the district receiving the majority of territory.

Here is the rule verbatim:

Iowa Administrative Code 281-12.3(4) Student records.

Each board shall require its administrative staff to establish and maintain a system of student records. This system shall include for each student a permanent office record and a cumulative record. The permanent office record shall serve as a historical record of official information concerning the student’s education. The permanent office record shall be recorded and maintained under the student’s legal name. At a minimum, the permanent office record should contain evidence of attendance and educational progress, serve as an official transcript, contain other data for use in planning to meet student needs, and provide data for official school and school district reports. This record is to be permanently maintained and stored in a fire-resistant safe or vault or can be maintained and stored electronically with a secure backup file.

The cumulative record shall provide a continuous and current record of significant information on progress and growth. It should reflect information such as courses taken, scholastic progress, school attendance, physical and health record, experiences, interests, aptitudes, attitudes, abilities, honors, extracurricular activities, part-time employment, and future plans. It is the “working record” used by the instructional professional staff in understanding the student. At the request of a receiving school or school district, a copy of the cumulative record shall be sent to officials of that school when a student transfers.

For the sole purpose of implementing an interagency agreement with state and local agencies in accordance with Iowa Code section 280.25, a student’s permanent record may include information contained in the cumulative record as defined above.

The board shall adopt a policy concerning the accessibility and confidentiality of student records that complies with the provisions of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and Iowa Code chapter 22.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 19, 2021 at 10:42am.