Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why the Office of the Inspector General (OIGE) for Education may require an educational record?
The OIGE investigates complaints or allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct by employees or contractors that involve or give rise to fraud, waste or abuse within the programs or operations of a local school system, boards of education, the State Department of Education (MSDE), and the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC).
Matters within the jurisdiction of the IG for investigation include allegations of:
- Criminal activity,
- Civil fraud or waste,
- Violations of local school system or State of Maryland administrative policies and regulations that can reasonably be expected to result in administrative action by the local school system or State of Maryland, Department of Budget and Management – Human Resources Division,
- Actions by school or public education officials or officers that would bring discredit to the local school system or State of Maryland government
- Falsified student records,
- Falsified or improper student enrollment reporting,
- Improper or unauthorized grade changing,
- Graduation cohort violations,
- Child abuse,
- Misuse of education funds and
- Matters in the jurisdiction of the IG.
Can an education record be subpoenaed by the OIGE?
Yes. The OIGE will request education records as part of an audit or investigation if required and as authorized by Maryland law, Education Art. Title §9.10.
Protections offered to student and families by Federal and State law regarding access to student records.
If the OIGE requests education records as part of its audit or investigation, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), applies to public schools and state or local education agencies. FERPA and COMAR apply to both paper and computerized records.
FERPA requires public schools and local education agencies to annually notify parents of their rights under FERPA. The annual notice pertaining to FERPA rights must explain that parents may inspect and review records and, if they believe the records to be inaccurate, they may seek to amend them. Parents also have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information in the record, except under authorized circumstances. Disclosure of educational records to the OIGE is an authorized exception under the audit/evaluation exception of FERPA 34 C.F.R. §99.31.
How will the OIGE protect educational records?
Pursuant to Education Article Title §9.10, records provided to the OIGE are confidential and records or information provided to, prepared for, or obtained by the Inspector General in connection with an investigation are confidential and not subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act.
OIGE limits and restricts access to confidential information it receives to the following individuals with legitimate interests and who have executed an Acknowledgement of Confidentiality Requirements Form:
A. The Inspector General for Education in charge of the day-to-day operations of the OIGE.
B. The OIGE Professional/Technical staff examining, auditing and investigating matters required under Education Art. Title 9.10.
C. Support staff including only to the extent necessary to support the OIGE project.
OIGE maintains the confidentiality of student record data at all steps of the project, including within any reports, by using appropriate disclosure avoidance techniques. OIGE does not disclose or allow access to target data to any person or entity not covered by this MOU, except as required by law and subject to legal requirements.
OIGE destroys student record data, including all copies, whether electronic or paper, when the information is no longer needed for auditing or investigatory purposes for which it was disclosed. Destruction of the data means that all files and directories containing any data from education records shall be permanently deleted and any hard copies of such data will be shredded.
How can a parent or guardian file a complaint with the OIGE?
The OIGE has established the following process to investigate allegations that the OIGE has violated student record confidentiality.
Allegations should be stated as clearly and specifically as possible and addressed to the OIGE at the following address: OIGE, Attn: Office of Investigations, 100 Community Place, Crownsville, Maryland, 21032. To aid OIGE to efficiently process allegations, OIGE will request supporting documentation that is relevant to the allegations to be provided.
A complaint to OIGE must—
• Be in writing and must contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of FERPA has occurred;
• Be filed by the parent or by the student (if the rights have transferred to the student); and
• Be filed within180 days of the alleged violation or within 180 days after you knew or should have known about the violation.
To resolve a complaint filed with OIGE, the office may need to collect personal information about a parent or child that is pertinent to the investigation and resolution of the complaint.
OIGE will request parental consent to share information in the following circumstances:
• To other employees at the OIGE who have a “need to know” such information to perform their job duties.
• To educational agencies and institutions to verify facts or gather additional information related to your complaint.
The Inspector General will take appropriate actions against any OIGE personnel who is determined to have improperly disclosed any student information that improperly protected or disclosed.
Procedures to file a FERPA complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE)
What are the requirements for filing a complaint?
Your complaint must be in writing and contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of FERPA or PPRA has occurred;
- filed by the parent or by the student (if the rights have transferred to the student); and
- filed within 180 days of the alleged violation or within 180 days after you knew or should have known about the violation.
How and where do you file a complaint?
If you wish to file a complaint under FERPA or PPRA, you should do so by completing the FERPA or PPRA complaint form provided on the DOE website: https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/file-a-complaint . You may also e-mail the completed complaint form to FERPA.Complaints@ed.gov (for FERPA complaints) or PPRA.Complaints@ed.gov (for PPRA complaints), or mail the completed form to the following address:
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520