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Rights and Privacy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (commonly referred to as the "Buckley Amendment") is designed to protect the confidentiality of education records and to give students access to their records to assure the accuracy of their contents. The Act affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

A student's rights begin when the student registers and attends his or her first class. The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions, FERPA regulations give privacy protection to all student education records. Examples of student records entitled to protection under FERPA include grade reports, transcripts and most disciplinary files. This protected information cannot be released to any third party, including parents, without signed and dated written consent from the student. Prior consent of a student, however, is not required for disclosure of education records under certain circumstances including to protect the health and safety of the student or others. For this reason, the University of Maryland developed a protocol regarding parental/guardian notification (see below).

Parents/guardians often express interest and concern for their student's academic progress. Our hope is that students will maintain open communication with their parents and/or family members regarding their academic progress and other important issues. We encourage you to discuss these matters with your student. Communicating with young adults is not easy; they're not always as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.

We encourage students and parents to agree upon methods of communication before classes begin. Coming to an agreement and establishing expectations for communication fosters trust and mutual responsibility. One convenient approach is to ask your student to grant parent/guardian access so that you can view your student's grades, class schedules, account balances, and unofficial transcripts using the University's Testudo Web site. Click here for information about the parent/guardian access.

As a parent or legal guardian, you normally can have access to your student's college records. The best way to do so is with your student's consent; however, if you claim your child as a dependent for federal tax purposes, the University will give you access to their grade records. FERPA does not require colleges and universities to grant such parental access. The University of Maryland does so as a matter of policy. A copy of your most recent federal income tax forms is normally sufficient documentation of your student's dependent status. This information should be provided to the Office of the Registrar. Generally, when a parent seeks access to a student's education records (based on a claim of dependent status) the Registrar will notify the student and urge the student to supply the information directly or grant parent/guardian access.

Parental/Guardian Notification Protocol

Introduction
It is the practice of the university to recognize students as adults upon admission and thus expect them to make decisions regarding academic, social, financial, and health related matters.  While we encourage students to communicate with their parents/family members and to seek advice on important issues we do not, as a regular practice, initiate contact with parents or guardians.  In exceptional circumstances, however, it may become necessary to inform a parent or guardian when we believe the health or safety of the student is at risk.  This protocol is intended to guide decisions associated with parental/guardian notification when a student is transported to a medical facility for self-harm, either suicidal threat or attempt.

Law/policy
The University of Maryland, College Park complies with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) of 1974 concerning privacy rights and the disclosure of student education records.  Generally, such records may not be released without prior consent or without proof that the student is the tax dependent of the parent.  Prior consent of a student, however, is not required for disclosure of education records under certain circumstances including to protect the health and safety of the student or others.  Accordingly, the university has adopted a policy and procedures to allow for the disclosure of student education records (III-6.30A) without prior consent to “appropriate parties in connection with an emergency, where knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

Procedures
In those situations in which a student presents a clear threat to self and is transported to a medical facility for a mental health evaluation the university will normally provide notification to the student’s parents or guardians.  Such notification will usually occur within 12 hours of the transport to a medical facility or as soon as is feasible.

Upon conducting a medical transport for self-harm (threat or attempt), university Police will initiate telephone contact with the student’s parent or guardian, as indicated in the Student Information System.
  1. If the student resides on-campus, a representative from the Department of Resident Life will serve as the point of contact for questions/concerns and to process an evaluation for return to campus housing.
  2. If the student resides off-campus, a representative from the Vice President for Student Affairs will serve as the primary point of contact and initiate a procedure to determine the student’s return to campus.
  3. In either situation, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs will receive notification whenever parents or guardians are notified under these procedures.  
In the event that mental health clinicians who might be available and knowledgeable of the student’s family relationships and they deem it unwise to inform parents or guardians, no notification will be made.
 

This protocol was approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs on January 18, 2018.

 

For additional information about FERPA and the University's policies, consult the Policy and Procedures on the Disclosure of Student Education Records.