Is a school required to change the student's records to match the name and gender being asserted at school?

Scott Swier
Founding Member, Attorney At Law

 

Unfortunately, South Dakota law does not provide any guidance regarding this issue. In many states, a request from the parent or student alone is enough to change school records. In others however, school officials must obtain a letter from the student's physician or counselor, a court order, or medical evidence before changing a student's record. As stated above, the Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) has suggested that FERPA does not require schools to change records retroactively based on transgender status after a student leaves the school, but does allow parents to request a change to records that are "inaccurate" or "misleading."

Rather than requiring a family to initiate proceedings under FERPA to change a record by challenging its current accuracy, school officials can work with families to ensure that a student's records accurately reflect his or her preferred name and gender identification. In this way, the student feels respected, and you have opened channels of communication with the family. It also can help alleviate staff confusion about how to address a transgender student. Memorialize your approach in district policies, including requests by former students for amended records, transcripts, and diplomas. It is likely that FERPA's provisions that permit amendment to "inaccurate" or "misleading" records would apply in that case. For current students, some school districts change the student's main file according to his or her preferences, but keep a separate confidential file identifying the student's birth name and sex assigned at birth.