Requirements for the Organization of Student Records Provided to the Department

Date Issued: 
Education Law § 5002(2)(a) requires that “every school licensed pursuant to this article shall maintain adequate and accurate records “for seven years” at its principal place of business within this state . . . in a manner and form prescribed by the commissioner and shall be made available to the department . . . upon request.”
Education Law § 5002(2)(d) provides that student permanent records shall be maintained for twenty years.
Education Law § 5001(8) requires that a school upon closure create a “…plan for maintenance of safe keeping of the records of the school is provided to the commissioner.”  This requirement is supplemented by the Commissioner’s regulations at 8 NYCRR §§ 126.11(c) and (d), which require that a school’s records plan upon discontinuance or closure include provision for the Commissioner’s taking custody of a school’s required records.
Education Law § 5009(4) requires the Commissioner to provide for “…the orderly maintenance of any student records which may be transferred to the department pursuant to any school's plan…” 
Custody of Electronic Records
As per Policy Guideline 34-0317 (Use and Maintenance of Electronic Records and Electronic Signatures), a licensed private career school or English as a Second Language (ESL) school may maintain electronic records. If a school closes or discontinues operations, electronic records must be producible to BPSS as required by Education Law § 5001(8), and Commissioner’s regulations at 8 NYCRR §§ 126.11(c) and (d) (or, in the case of ESL schools, 8 NYCRR § 126.10(j)(1)(iv)).  Electronic records must otherwise be equivalent to, and as complete as, in all respects other than their electronic form, records maintained on paper or in other hard-copy form.  
If a school utilizing electronic records under Policy Guideline 34-0317 ceases operations and seeks, as part of its plan, to request that the Commissioner take custody of its required records, the following conditions must be met:
[1] The records must be provided as searchable PDF;
[2] The records may not be owned by any other party. If they are password-protected, the closing school must submit and relinquish all administrator rights;
[3] The records must be indexed by student’s last name and the student’s unique identification number; and
[4] The records must be transferred securely, through a secure encrypted file transfer protocol, as designated by BPSS.
Custody of Paper Records
If a school requests that the Commissioner take custody of the school’s paper records, the following conditions must be met:
[1] Student records may be converted to microfiche (indexed by Student’s Last name)
[2] Student records may be converted to microfilm (indexed by Student’s Last name)
[3] Student records may be provided in paper form, provided that they are:
[a] in individual folders by student last name
[b] in standard record boxes where all student records in them share the same first letter of the students’ last name and are alphabetized
[c] reduced to the following components:
[i] student enrollment agreement
[ii] student transcript
[iii] copy student completion certificate, if applicable
[iv] student ledger
[4] Student records may be provided as searchable PDF, under the conditions outlined above for electronic records.
Confidentiality of Student Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Schools, when turning over their records to BPSS in the circumstances which this Policy Guideline addresses, should be mindful of their FERPA obligations.