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2003 Opinions

Date:   March 4, 2003
Prepared By:   Jason Fudge
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   03-02
Staff Contact:    
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: Irene Wimbush, Program Specialist IV
Food and Nutrition Management
FROM: Daniel Woodring
General Counsel
SUBJECT: Disclosure of information detained from applications for free or reduced price meals
RE: Your opinion request dated February 24, 2003

QUESTION PRESENTED: Is the consent of a student or a student’s parent required before information obtained from an application for free or reduced price meals, is released to other school officials?

CONCLUSION: No, school officials can disclose information obtained from an application for free or reduced price meals to other school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information.

DISCUSSION: The No Child Left Behind Act requires States and local education agencies (LEAs) to measure and report publicly on the progress of all students, and of students in various population groups, including students who are economically disadvantaged. For many LEAs, information from the National School Lunch Program is perhaps the best source of data available to hold school accountable for the achievement of “economically disadvantaged” students, and to identify students eligible to receive supplemental educational services or to receive priority for public school choice.

Section 9(b)(2)(C)(iii) of the National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1758(b)(2)(C)(iii)) authorizes the limited disclosure of children’s free and reduced price meal eligibility information to specific programs or individuals without prior parent/guardian consent. It provides, in part, that such information can be disclosed to a person directly connected with the administration or enforcement of a Federal education program. See 42 USC 1758(b)(2)(C)(iii)(II)(aa). Section 1002.22(3)(d)1., Florida Statutes, permits the disclosure of personally identifiable records or reports of a student to “[o]ther school officials, including teachers within the educational institution or agency, who have a legitimate educational interest in the information contained in the records.” Therefore it is permissible for school officials to share information necessary to comply with the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, without consent of the student or the student’s parent.

JF/mak

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