Privacy of Records
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records; for more information about these rights contact the Family Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education.
Disclosures to Parents and Rights of Students (Section 99.5 of FERPA)
Under current regulations, all rights of parents under FERPA, including the right to inspect and review education records, to seek to have education records amended in certain circumstances, and to consent to the disclosure of education records, transfer to the student once the student has reached 18 years of age or attends a post-secondary institution and thereby becomes an “eligible student.” Current regulations also provide that even after a student has become an “eligible student” under FERPA, post-secondary institutions (and high schools, for students over 18 years of age) may allow parents to have access to their child’s education records, without the student’s consent, in the following circumstances: the student is a dependent for Federal income tax purposes (99.31(a)(8)); the disclosure is in connection with a health or safety emergency under the conditions specified in 99.36 (i.e., if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals (99.31(a)(10))); and for post-secondary students, the student has violated any Federal, State or local law, or any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, if the institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation regarding that use or possession and the student is under 21 at the time of the disclosure (99.31(a)(15)).
School Officials (99.31(a)(1) of FERPA)
Under current regulations, school districts and post-secondary institutions may allow “school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution” to have access to students’ education records, without consent, if they have determined that the official has “legitimate educational interests” in the information. Under 99.7, a district or post-secondary institution that discloses information under this exception must include in its annual FERPA notification for parents and students a specification of criteria for determining who constitutes a school official and what constitutes a legitimate educational interest. Disclosures to school officials with legitimate educational interests are not subject to the recording requirements in 99.32.
An appropriate “school official” is defined as having legitimate educational interest when information from a student’s record is necessary for the official to: perform a task or determination that is an employment responsibility or is a properly assigned subject matter for the official; perform a task that is related specifically to the official’s participation in the student’s education; perform a task that is related specifically to the discipline of the student; or provide a service or benefit relating to the students’ family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid. In such cases, the Director of Disability and Learning Services may speak directly with those individuals to ensure appropriate planning. Students are also encouraged to speak with faculty and/or staff as openly as possible to facilitate better understanding and support. In most circumstances, clinical information, such as test data and diagnostic information will not be released to faculty or staff.
Directory Information (99.3 of FERPA)
Directory information is currently defined as information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. School districts and post-secondary institutions may disclose directory information without consent if they have given the parent or eligible student notice of the kinds of information they designate as directory information and an opportunity to opt out of directory information disclosures. The statute and current regulations specifically list some items as directory information, including a student’s name, address, telephone number, email address, photograph, date and place of birth, enrollment status, and major field of study. Neither the statute nor current regulations list any items that may not be designated and disclosed as directory information.
Release of Records to the DLRC
It is requested that health and mental health service providers include a copy of the student’s signed release of information when providing information to the DLRC. Consistent with Section 56.11 of the California Civil Code, the signed release should:
- Be handwritten or typed in font greater than 8pt.
- State the specific uses and limitations on the types of medical information to be disclosed.
- State the name and function of the health care provider that may disclose the medical information.
- State the names and functions of the persons or entities authorized to receive the medical information.
- State the specific uses and limitations on the use of the medical information by the persons or entities authorized to receive the medical information.
- State a specific date after which the health care provider is no longer authorized to disclose the medical information.
- Advise the person signing the authorization of the right to receive a copy of the authorization.
Release of Clinical Documentation Records to Students
Clinical information provided in the professional documentation of disability includes the diagnosis of a physical, learning, or psychological condition, related test scores, and supplemental information provided by a licensed health care or mental health professional. Clinical information will not be released to anyone without the consent of the student except as necessary to implement accommodations or as needed for clinical consultation by the professional staff of the DLRC. Access to clinical information is restricted to the professional staff of the DLRC, Provost, the Director of the Wellness Center, and the Counseling Center. Additionally, the Wellness Center and the Counseling Center maintain independent records and may not release verbal or written information about a present or former patient or client without a written release of information from the patient or client unless required by law. Students requesting to obtain copies of their clinical documentation from the DLRC must contact the Director. Documentation provided directly from the student to the DLRC will be released to the student. Within 45 days of the request the student must complete the Request for Access to Student File form and return it to the Director of Disability and Learning Services. Clinical documentation provided directly to the DLRC from a physician is considered property of the clinician and will not be released to the student without the consent of the clinician.
Release of Clinical Documentation Records to Faculty and/or Staff
Faculty and staff notification of disability status and accommodations will occur only at the request of the student by way of the Accommodations Agreement, which does not inform faculty and staff about the student’s diagnosis of disability. If the student wants to disclose the diagnosis of disability to a faculty or staff member, then a student must complete the Consent for Release of Information form.
Release of Clinical Documentation Records to Third Parties
Students wishing to have documentation sent to third parties (e.g. clinicians, Department of Rehabilitation, Educational Testing Services, other universities) must make a request to the director and must sign the Consent for Release of Information form available from the DLRC. Documentation will only be released to persons and/or entities that are considered appropriate recipients of the information. When released, the documentation will be sent directly to the third party. If the documentation release is for the purposes of receiving accommodations on standardized tests (e.g. GRE) or for purposes of receiving accommodations at another academic institution, the DLRC reserves the right to inform the recipient of the student’s accommodation history at Concordia University.
A file will be opened for any student who contacts the DLRC and expresses a desire to receive accommodations, receives a clinical referral, or submits documentation of a disability. Files will remain open as long as the student has provided the required documentation of the disability and the student maintains contact with the DLRC. A staff member from the DLRC will attempt to reach by phone, email, or letter any student with an open file that does not have contact with the DLRC for more than one semester. Student files may be closed if the student does not respond to staff attempts at contacting him or her. Files may also be closed at any time at the request of the student or the graduation of the student. Closed files will be maintained for a minimum of 5 years past the last date of attendance and will then be destroyed by shredding. All student files and records are secured in a filing cabinet maintained by the DLRC. This filing cabinet is locked at the end of each day. While students may access and view their DLRC file, photocopying of the file is discouraged in most cases. Should a student desire to photocopy the contents of his or her file, a Request for Access to Student File form must be completed and returned to the Director of Disability and Learning Services. The DLRC has 45 days to provide the requested records. All student files and records are maintained in accordance with the requirements of the FERPA.