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Student Rights And Federal Law

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A Grove mother who's suing the school district on behalf of her 15 year-old son says an administrator told her sensitive information about another student. Specific medical information that she says, he had no right to reveal.

Sheila Dawson's lawsuit alleges Grove school faculty and administrators violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, when they told others medical facts and lies about her son and other students.

The News on 6 spoke with a HIPAA expert and learned that "the act" only protects healthcare providers, healthcare clearing houses and others who bill electronically for medical services. Elise Brennan says if the information comes from anywhere else, it's not protected under HIPAA. "HIPAA doesn't pertain to idle gossip. If an employer or the school has learned information from gossip, then that's not protected health information, which is what's covered under HIPAA."

The US Department of Education points to the Family Education Right to Privacy Act, which prohibits schools from disclosing a student's records without parental consent.

If a school has medical information about a student, it becomes part of the education record and is protected under FERPA.
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