Privacy laws protected

By Staff Writer
February 19, 2004

College students invest a large amount of time for numerous activities but often fail to take care of themselves mentally. Students will be glad to know that if they choose to seek counseling services, the Counseling Services Center provides full confidentiality.

Not only do students sign a client consent and agreement to terms of service form by Cabrini College when they first start their counseling sessions, they are protected under the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act.

According to the U.S. Constitution, this law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s educational records. These rights transfer to the student, or former students who have reached age 18 or are beyond high school, therefore becoming eligible students.

Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review all of the student’s education record maintained by the school. In addition, parents and eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading.

According to “The Emerging Crisis of College Student Suicide: Law and Policy responses to serious forms of self-inflicted injury” by Peter Lake and Nancy Tribbense, FERPA protects the privacy of student educational records, which include most university records maintained about enrolled students. Under FERPA, these records should not be released to anyone, including a student’s parent or guardian, unless the student consents or unless the disclosure falls within a recognized FERPA exception, FERPA restricts the disclosure of academic and conduct records. It also restricts the disclosure of records of informal counseling or educational sessions between the student and campus officials, such as student housing staff, student judicial affairs, and academic advisors.

Psychologists, counselors and professions of the sort reserve the right to break that contract of confidentiality when they see that the patient has mentioned or displayed tendencies of harming themselves or others.

Suzanne Mallaghan-Rasco, psychologist, said, ” I answer to Pa. law before anything else. I will never violate a student’s privacy unless they are in a situation where they are making decisions that hinder themselves or others.”

Christine Lysionek, vice president of student development, said, “In the extreme case that a person has been called to Student Development’s attention because they are creating a disturbance in the residence halls, we will call them in and see if we can intervene. We will do our best to see that we can offer that person guidance.”

Vicki Li, a teacher at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, N.Y., recounted how her sister obtained records of her niece’s transcripts. Li’s sister became suspicious when Li’s niece, a junior at University of Michigan, did not show her the latest transcript. Unbeknownst to Li’s niece, her parents found out of a failure she wished to conceal.

Posted to the Web by Shawn Rice

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