Special Education Weekly Update
October 13, 2016
No Student Initials in Email
In a Legal Update presented by the law firm of Walter Haverfield LLP, attorneys advised school districts to discontinue use of student initials in emails. Using initials does not stop an email from being an educational record for that student, so it is easier to use the student’s name. Use of a child’s name assists identification of potential emails in response to a records request. When using initials, it is difficult to find records because multiple people can have the same name/initials, and some student’s initials could also be a high-frequency word (e.g. “TO,” or “BE”). An additional consideration is that districts do not want to pay their attorneys unnecessarily for searching through documents with student initials and verifying if they are records for the student under review or the initials of another student. Lastly, if you put someone’s name in the subject field, it is a good reminder to staff that it is an educational record and they should respond professionally. Strongsville’s Special Education Leadership Team is in agreement with these recommendations and is advising staff to discontinue use of student initials when emailing and should instead use student names. At times when staff do not wish to create an educational record, they should communicate in person or through phone conversations.