HB 4046: Student Record Confidentiality

By Margaret Mitschke*

This blog is part of our 60 Laws in 60 Minutes update to the SHSU community.

During the 84th session of the Texas Legislature, House Bill 4046 was passed. This bill relates to the confidentiality of student records. The bill goes into effect September 1, 2015.

Student Record Picture

Prior to HB 4046, the law did not define what constituted a student record. The bill changes this and defines a student record as:

  1. Information that constitutes education records as that term is defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g (a) (4)); or
  2. Information in a record of an applicant for admission to an educational institution, including a transfer applicant.

The first definition is defined by FERPA (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g (a) (4) (1974)):

  1. For the purposes of this section, the term “education records” means…those records, files, documents, and other material which—
  1. Contain information directly related to a student; and
  2. Are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.

This bill also closes a gap in the federal privacy law, which offered protection and confidentiality to student records that were enrolled in a university, but not to students that had applied but had not enrolled. The bill fixes this, and applicants to the university may have their records available upon request by:

  1. Educational institution personnel;
  2. The student involved, the student’s parent, legal guardian, or spouse; or
  3. A person conducting a child abuse investigation.

The final change clarifies the content of the student records that may disclosed. The bill states:

(e) If an applicant for admission to an educational institution described by Subsection (b) or a parent or legal guardian of a minor applicant to an educational institution described by Subsection (b) requests information in the record of the applicant, the educational institution shall disclose any information that:

  1. Is related to the applicant’s application for admission; and
  2. Was provided to the educational institution by the applicant.

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