FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Parents have an "absolute right" to
inspect all educational records relating to their children,
including e-mails exchanged between teachers and administrators, the Kentucky attorney general's office concluded in an opinion released Monday.
The issue arose when Jonathan Sholar of Princeton sought access to all records pertaining to his daughter, whether hardcopy or electronic. The Caldwell County school district refused the request.
"Mr. Sholar possesses an absolute right to inspect any and all educational records, including the requested communications, relating to his daughter," Assistant Attorney General Amye L. Bensenhaver wrote in the opinion. "The district's refusal to disclose these records to him constituted a violation of the Open Records Act."
Caldwell County School Superintendent Carrell Boyd said he will abide by the attorney general's opinion and give Sholar access to the information he seeks. Boyd, who could have appealed the matter to circuit court, said his concern had been that information about other students might also be contained in the records being sought.
Sholar asked for access to "all documents, e-mails, notes, correspondence and memoranda" involving his daughter. It was a departure from the more common requests for transcripts and similar academic records.
School district attorney Marc Wells argued that releasing e-mails and other correspondence "would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy."
Bensenhaver concluded that the school district might be able to withhold the requested documents from the general public, but that Sholar, as a parent, can't be denied access.
Communications about Sholar's daughter "clearly constitute educational records" because they are maintained by an educational institution, according to the opinion.
Bensenhaver also noted in the opinion that state and federal law prohibit the disclosure of the educational records Sholar sought to anyone else without his consent.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)