72 Op. Att'y Gen. 169 (1983)
72 OAG 169  170  171  172

Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

Opinion # OAG 46-83,

4 October 1983

Public Records;
Schools And School Districts;

A written notice and request for transfer of
pupil records under Section 118.125(4),
Stats., is both a pupil record and public
record which must be maintained for at
least five years after the pupil
ceases to be enrolled.

"Pupil records" as defined in Section
118.125(1) are "public records" within
Section 19.32(2) but are subject to
special statutes which limit access and
direct maximum and minimum periods of
maintenance before destruction for
various classes of pupil records.

Sections 19.21(6) and 118.125(3), Stats.

Executive Secretary
Public Records and Forms Board

You request my opinion on
the following questions:

1. Is a school district required to retain
   and maintain the original written
   notices and authorization forms for
   transfer of "all pupil records" to
   other schools or institutions
   submitted by adult students or
   on behalf of minor students
   pursuant to Section 118.125(4)?

2. If the answer to question one
   is yes, for what period must
   such records be retained?

The answer to your first question is yes.

The answer to your second question is
governed by any rules adopted by the school
board pursuant to Section 118.125(3) which
relates to maintenance of pupil records.

With respect to "pupil records" which are not
"behavioral records" within the meaning of
Section 118.125(1)(b), such rules must
provide for a retention and maintenance
period of at least five years "after the
pupil ceases to be enrolled in the school."

The written notice and authorization
form is not a "behavioral record."

Section 118.125(3)provides:


Each school board shall adopt rules in
writing specifying the content of pupil
records and the time during which pupil
records shall be maintained, except that
no behavioral records may be maintained
for more than one year after the date upon
which the pupil graduated from or last
attended the school, unless the pupil
specifies in writing that individual
behavioral records may be maintained.

72 OAG 169  170  171  172

Rules adopted under this Subection
shall be published by the school board
as a class 1 notice under Chapter 985.

Pupils records need not be maintained for a
period of longer than 5 years after the pupil
ceases to be enrolled in the school.

School districts may maintain such records
on microfilm or in such form as
the board deems appropriate.

The written notice authorization form is
a "pupil record" within the definition
contained in Section 118.125(1)(a),
which provides:

"Pupil records" means all records
relating to individual pupils maintained
by an elementary or high school but does
not include notes or records maintained
for personal use by a teacher or other
person who is required by the department
under Section 115.28(7) to hold a
certificate, license or permit if such
records and notes are not available to
others nor does it include records
necessary for, and available only to
persons involved in, the psychological
treatment of a pupil.

Paragraphs 118.125(1)(b), (c) and (d) refer
to specific types of pupil records:

   "Behavioral records,"
   "Progress records" and
   "Directory data."

The attorney who prompted your request
has incorrectly set forth the
basic issue in stating:

The question. . is whether the
authorization form is a "pupil record"
within the meaning of Section 118.125,
stats., or whether the authorization
form is a "public record" within the
meaning of 19.32(2), stats."

In my opinion "pupil records" as defined in
Section 118.125(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d) are
"public records" within the definition in
Section 19.32(2) of the public records law:

   "Record" means any material on which
   written, drawn, printed, spoken, visual
   or electromagnetic information is
   recorded or preserved, regardless of
   physical form or characteristics,
   which has been created or is
   being kept by an authority.

   "Record" includes, but is not limited
   to, handwritten, typed or printed pages,
   maps, charts, photographs, films,
   recordings, tapes (including computer
   tapes), and computer printouts.

   "Record" does not include drafts, notes,
   preliminary computations and like
   materials prepared for the originator's
   personal use or prepared by the
   originator in the name of a person
   for whom the originator is working;
   materials which are purely the personal
   property of the custodian and have no
   relation to his or her office; materials
   to which access is limited by copyright,
   patent or bequest; and published
   materials in the possession of an
   authority other than a public library
   which are available for sale,
   or which are available for
   inspection at a public library.

72 OAG 169  170  171  172

Access to "pupil records" is limited under
Section 19.35 by reason of Section 19.36(1)
and specifically by Section 118.125(2), which
provides in part:

   All pupil records maintained by a public
   school shall be confidential, except
   as provided in Paragraphs (a) to (j).

   The school board shall adopt
   regulations to maintain the
   confidentiality of such records.

The exception as to pupil records in
Section 19.21(6) does not mean that
such records are not public records or
that they must be maintained forever.

That Section provides:

   Any school district, except a city
   school district or a school district in
   a 1st class city, may provide for the
   destruction of obsolete school records.

   Prior to any such destruction, at least
   60 days' notice in writing of such
   destruction shall be given the
   historical society, which shall
   preserve any such records it
   determines to be of historical interest.

   The historical society may, upon
   application, waive the notice.

   The period of time a school district record
   shall be kept before destruction shall be not
   less than 7 years, unless a shorter period is
   fixed by the public records and forms board
   under Section 16.61(3)(e) and except as
   provided under Subsection 16.61(3)(7).

   This Section shall not apply to
   pupil records under Section 118.125.

Maintenance and the period pupil records must
be retained by the school district is
governed by Section 118.125(3)
and rules adopted thereunder.

By reason of that statute, a school district
board has a duty to adopt rules providing for
the maintenance and destruction of pupil
records not transferred, subject to
limitations as to the maximum and minimum
time periods set forth in the Subsection.


72 OAG 169  170  171  172