FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) defines a parent as follows:
Parent Definition: The term parent is defined as a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a natural parent or a guardian. A grandparent or other caregiver who is acting in the absence of the parent(s) may also be considered a “parent” under FERPA. (Source: 34 CFR § 99.3) Under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) regulations (34 C.F.R. 300.20), a parent is defined as a natural or adoptive parent of a child, a guardian (not the state if the child is a ward of the state), a person acting in the place of a parent (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives, or a person who is legally responsible for the child's welfare), or a surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with Section 300.515.
Stepparent Rights: The U.S. Department of Education has expanded the definition above to include stepparents. A stepparent has the right to view educational records if the stepparent lives in the home with the child. Additionally, the stepparent has the right to review the student's records through the parent portal. A stepparent may be considered a “parent” under FERPA if the stepparent is present on a day-to-day basis with the natural parent and child and the other parent is absent from the home. Conversely, a stepparent who is not present on a day-to-day basis in the home of the child does not have rights under FERPA with respect to the child’s education records.
Enrollment: If a father or mother cannot come into the school office to complete registration/enrollment documents due to work schedule, a stepparent is not authorized to complete the enrollment documents unless the stepparent has guardianship.