Confidentiality: Scenario 1

A teacher sends an e-mail to the principal in which he discusses a classroom behavior issue. He mentions 4 students by name. The parent of one of the students mentioned insists that she want to see the e-mail. The teacher says "no," claiming that the e-mail was a confidential communication between the teacher and the principal.

Is the teacher correct, or does the parent have a right to see the e-mail?

The teacher is INCORRECT. A written communication that contains identifying information for a student is legally part of the student's record. (In this case, the e-mail would be part of all 4 students' records.) As such, the parent has the right to access the e-mail. Confidential student information should not be discussed via e-mail. The content of any e-mail communication should always be professional and consider all potential audiences.