Resources for Parents, Families, and Allies

The transition from high school to college also means a change in student privacy protections and changes in the way students receive accommodations and services.  The following resources will aid in the understanding of the high school-college transition. 

Differences in Roles and Responsibilities

Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers.Students must self-identify to Accessibility Services
Primary responsibiity for arranging accommodations belongs to the schoolPrimary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student
Teachers approach the student if they believe they need assistanceProfessor are usually open and helpful, but most expect the student to initiate contact if they need assistance
There is often regular contact and meetings with parentsThere is not parent contact without the student's permission
Parent has access to student records and can participate in the accommodation processParent does not have access to student records
Parent advocates for the studentStudent advocates for the self

Differences in Laws and Processes

I.D.E.A (Individuals with Disabilities Act)A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Students with disabilities are "Otherwise Qualified" for pubic education by being the appropriate age to attend elementary through high school"Otherwise Qualified" for higher education means a student must meet all entrance, academic, and graduation requirements, regardless of disability status
I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan) and/or 504 PlanHigh School I.E.P. and 504 plans are not sufficient. Documentation Guidelines specifiy information needed for each category of disability
The school is responsible for providing services such as physical or speech therapy and disability-related medical/personal careThe student is responsible for personal services such as individual assistants or coaches and personal medical devices and services
School provides evaluation at no cost to studentStudent must get evaluation at own expense
Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disabilityCurrent Documentation must provide information on specific nature of condition or disability, functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations
Everybody knows about a student's placement for special education, and teachers are often expected to learn all they can about a student's disabilityStudents have a right to choose when and to whom they wish to disclose dissability status, and professors only need to know the accommodation the student is requesting
The goal of services is about SUCCESS -- The school modifies the educational programs to ensure student successThe goal of services is about ACCESS -- The college makes reasonable accomodations which do not alter essential course or graduation requirements to ensure equal access

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) FAQ

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student (“eligible student”). The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at...

How am I informed about my rights under FERPA?

Educational agencies and institutions are required to notify parents and eligible students about their rights under FERPA. Section 99.7 of the FERPA regulations sets forth the requirements for the notification and there is a model notification on this Web site. Schools do not have to individually notify parents and eligible students but do have to notify them by any means that are reasonably likely to inform the parents or eligible students of their rights.

Under what circumstances may a school disclose information from education records without consent?

There are several exceptions to FERPA’s general prior consent rule that are set forth in the statute and the regulations. See § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. One exception is the disclosure of “directory information” if the school follows certain procedures set forth in FERPA. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(11).)

What is “Directory Information”?

FERPA defines “directory information” as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Typically, “directory information” includes information such as name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and dates of attendance. A school may disclose “directory information” to third parties without consent if it has given public notice of the types of information which it has designated as “directory...

If I am a parent of a college student, do I have the right to see my child’s education records, especially if I pay the bill?

As noted above, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student, once the student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age. However, although the rights under FERPA have now transferred to the student, a school may disclose information from an “eligible student’s” education records to the parents of the student, without the student’s consent, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes. Neither the age of the student nor the parent’s status as a custodial parent is relevant. If a student is claimed as a dependent by either...

Can a postsecondary institution disclose financial records of an eligible student with the student’s parents?

If the student is a dependent for income tax purposes, the institution may disclose any education records, including financial records to a student’s parents. If the student is not a dependent, then the student must generally provide consent for the school to disclose the information to the parents.

What if my child is a minor and he or she is taking classes at a local college while still in high school – do I have rights?

If a student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school.

May a postsecondary institution disclose to a parent, without the student’s consent, information regarding a student’s violation of the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance?

Yes, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure. FERPA was amended in 1998 to allow such disclosures. See § 99.31(a)15 of the FERPA regulations. Also, if the student is a “dependent student” as defined in FERPA, the institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of the student.