What's the Penalty for Non-Compliance in K-12 Records Management?

Posted by YellowFolder on Dec 1, 2018 12:00:00 PM
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The importance of K-12 records management has increased in  importance over the past 75 years. In 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was put into place by the United States government to address the growing need of governance over educational information and records for students.  As suggested by the name, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives clear requirements that only parents may have access to a “child's education records, an opportunity to seek to have the records amended, and some control over the disclosure of information from the records.”  Once the student is 18 years of age, he or she is expected to handle the burden of their own educational rights and privacy.

In addition to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, there are other regulatory laws set in place that must be obeyed when dealing with K-12 records management.  HIPAA, for example, is one of the more commonly known set of rules dictated by congress. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was created and established in 1996.  School systems and their associates must respect HIPAA and abide by the Act or face dire consequences. HIPAA is different than FERPA because it doesn’t only deal with students, but employees as well.

Because of this, there are two separate titles to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  Title 1 regulates the availability of healthcare access, portability, and renewability. Title 2 influences the prevention of healthcare fraud and abuse, administrative simplification, and medical liability reform.  

Basically, Title 2 is what keeps companies and administrations legally honest and ethical when it comes to K-12 records management and compliance.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Should an education center, school, or any associate of either be accused of being in non-compliance of K-12 record management compliance, and the complaint is handled correctly by an of-age student or parent of an underage student, they will be subject to a variety of levels of penalization.  After the Department of Education has received an official complaint, an investigation will commence to assess the compliance levels of K-12 records. The alleged violator will cooperate with the Department of Education or Department of Health to the fullest extent. Should the body being investigated of standing in violation of the Act(s) be found guilty by the governing body, it shall be provided with a list of actions needed to be taken to resolve the non-compliance and a deadline to comply by.  

Depending on the level and severity of non-compliance and progress made by the time the deadline rolls around, a violating body can be presented with a variety of penalties.  Sometimes penalties are fines, sometimes they are in the form of a temporary blemish leading to infrequent, detailed review by the governing body which is much like an audit, sometimes the penalty is a permanent blemish leading to more frequent detailed review by the governing body, or in extreme cases, a penalty can be an order to close the facility or business.

Digital Record Management Systems to Ensure Compliance

To avoid some serious consequences, it’s best to get all of your K-12 record management compliance in order.  This means staying up to date on the best method of record management, record retention, and privacy protocols. Simply holding onto paper copies likely isn’t good enough if you want to comply with the mandated Acts that are in place to protect our children and employees.  It’s time to look in to digital record management to ensure compliance and prevent the negative impact a complaint can have on a reputation.

1http://familypolicy.ed.gov/sites/fpco.ed.gov/files/FPCO_Parents%20and%20Eligible%20Students%20FAQ.pdf

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Topics: Compliance, Special Education, School Records