Legal Question in Education Law in Pennsylvania

Am I as a parent of a child attending a private high school in Phila, PA have any rights to another students paper without having their name on it. My daughter was accused of plagiarizing a summer assignment. I have another students paper that shows that she also plagiarized on her assignment . I did not mention any names to the principal because I did not want to get her in trouble also. She gave me her paper and she even admitted to me that she did the same thing as my daughter. The principal wanted the name and the paper. I refused. My daughter got an F the other girl got a B. They did use different articles for their papers but they both still plagiarized. The principal said that under HIPAA laws I had no right to see any other students papers. Is this true even if they black out the names? Please help. Thank Yoou

Asked on 9/05/13, 11:59 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

CHARLES WEINER Law Office of Charles Weiner

The short of the answer is that you do not have any right to review another student's records. Under any circumstance, whether your child is in public or private school, you do not have a right to review another student' records. While the principal may have suggested that HIPAA protects privacy of educational records, that is not the case. FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) does protect educational records, which are maintained by a school that receives funds from the U.S. Dept. of Education. FERPA probably does not apply to your private school. Accordingly, the private school can essentially do as it pleases with the records. If you don't believe your child plagiarized, there may be an internal judicial review process that your school follows. You should check the student handbook for this; however, the judicial processes are often a bit of a kangaroo court that simply does what the principal/headmaster wants it to do. On the other hand, you may not want to make waives if they are giving an "F" but are allowing her to enroll. Normally, the consequence for plagiarism is expulsion. You may attempt to negotiate a "Withdrawal" from that summer course instead of an "F". However, you probably don't have much leverage to make that request but it likely does not hurt to ask. Good luck.

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Answered on 9/06/13, 7:29 am

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