Schools, just like hospitals, have lots of records that need to be maintained. Instead of HIPAA, however, the law that controls how schools must treat their student records storage is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Under FERPA, there is no set retention date for the records that schools keep. This means that they must be stored almost permanently. Finding a secure storage solution is very important to make sure a school or district is compliant with the law.
What is FERPA?
Simply put, FERPA is a federal law that gives parents the right to access their children’s education records. The law also allows parents to seek the correction of errors and control what personally identifiable information (PII) is disclosed in them. This right transfers to the student once they turn 18 or attend school at a level past high school.
FERPA limits when educational information about a student can be released. Generally, the school must have permission from the parent or student, although there are certain exceptions.
How FERPA Affects Storage
Because FERPA does not define any limits on how long student records must be kept, schools must store student records indefinitely. Additionally, because FERPA requires that student records remain private, it’s important that schools use secure storage services for their students’ records.
Luckily, there are several options when it comes to student records storage.
Off-Site Records Storage
Storing records at an off-site storage facility is a great option to keep student records safe.
Off-site storage facilities are climate controlled and have safety measures in place to prevent damage or destruction from natural disasters or accidents.
When records are picked up for transport to an off-site storage facility, they are coded and organized so that they can be easily retrieved on demand when requested by a parent or student.
For a more high-tech option, student record storage can be done using a cloud storage service. Digital storage services afford a number of benefits that you do not get when storing paper copies. These include remote access and encryption to make sure they stay secure.
Further, because they are stored electronically, the records can be easily sent to the parents or students who request them. Although FERPA does not require schools to make copies available, it does allow schools to charge a fee for copies.
Because cloud storage services eliminate the need to make paper copies, this option may even pay for itself over time.
Document Management Systems
A document management system (DMS), like cloud storage, provides many benefits for student records storage over traditional paper copies.
One of the biggest benefits is keyword searching, making it easier than ever to find the records you are looking for. They also provide the ability to restrict who can access the files for an additional level of security.
Have Student Records that Need Storage?
Record Nations partners with secure storage providers across the United States. To let us help you find the best service for your needs, fill out our form or give us a call at (866) 385-3706 for a free no-obligation quote from service providers in your area.