Disclosure to Parents of Dependent Students
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), colleges and universities are afforded certain liberties relative to notifying parents or guardians of information concerning their student. In July 2000, the Department of Higher Education Rules instructed institutions further by giving them greater latitude to notify parents of rules violations stating that schools could determine their own process and were not required to alert students of notification as long as the institution kept such activity in the students' educational file to which the student has access. It was also noted that colleges and universities do not have to hold hearings before contacting parents.
The goals of Penn States parental notification policy are to:
- Identify additional supportive points of intervention for students.
- Become better partners with parents/guardians in support of their student.
- To identify at risk behavior thresholds for which notification would be effectively applied.
- To educate students about the negative impact that dangerous, unhealthy and inappropriate choices have on their education and on others.
- To utilize the impacts of family/guardian intervention for deterring further misconduct.
Disclosure of Discipline Records of Dependent Students
Disciplinary records are maintained as part of each student's educational records. The University reserves the right to report general discipline information to parents and guardians of dependent students. A "dependent student" as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is a person who has attended an educational institution full-time for any five (5) calendar months of a tax year and who was provided more than one-half of his or her support as claimed by his or her parent(s) on their income tax statement.
A student is not a dependent student if he or she:
- is or will be 24 years old during the academic year.
- is enrolled in a graduate or professional program.
- is married.
- has a child or other dependent who receives more than half of his or her support from the student.
- is an orphan or ward of the court.
- is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- is an international student.
For purposes of this policy, the assumption, unless individually certified to the contrary, is that University students are not dependent students. Absent unusual circumstances, the University does not disclose disciplinary records to parents and guardians of students who are not dependent students.
Disclosure of Discipline Records Concerning Violations of Local, State or Federal Law Governing the Use or Possession of Alcohol or Controlled Substances
Federal legislation authorizes the University to disclose disciplinary records to parents and guardians of students who are under the age of 21, regardless of dependency, when the records concern violations of local, state or federal law governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances. However, absent unusual circumstances, the University does not disclose disciplinary records to parents and guardians of students who are not dependent students as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.
Parental Notification of General Discipline Information
Accordingly, where federal legislation authorizes the University to disclose disciplinary records to parents and guardians, the University reserves the right to do so under any of the following circumstances:
- The parent or guardian inquires about a specific Code of Conduct violation for which the student was found responsible of committing;
- The student exhibits a pattern of established misconduct and has exhausted or failed to complete required conditions of assigned discipline sanctions or other performance requirements;
- The Code of Conduct violation constitutes a situation where the student's status at the University may be in jeopardy (i.e., housing or academic standing);
- The student has been involved or has involved others in a potentially life-threatening situation and there is reason to believe that notifying parents and guardians may reduce the imminent risk.
Updated August 2009