FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, grants rights to students concerning their education record. Students’ information is confidential and cannot be released or discussed with anyone (except another UD official who has a legitimate education need to review the record) other than the student without specific written permission of the student. The written permission should include:
- Time frame. Open ended permission (e.g., while I am a student) is not acceptable;
- Names of people to be involved in the discussion; and
- The topic of discussion.
Example: I give permission for my academic advisor, John Hen, to discuss my current mid-term grades with my mother, Mary Smith, this month.
Written permission must be granted each time the student wants to grant permission for someone to discuss the student’s academic record with a parent or other person. Blanket approval to discuss information with any university official at any time cannot be granted.
Best practice is to talk with the student and parent simultaneously. Talking with both parties at the same time, whether in person or by telephone, allows all parties to hear and respond to the same concerns together, and it can avoid misunderstandings. An advisor is not required to speak to a parent about a student’s academic record even if permission has been granted by the student. However, talking with the student and parent together can contribute to student success.