Parental and/or Guardian Notification Policy
The goals of Penn State University’s parental and/or guardian notification policy are to:
- Identify additional supportive points of intervention for students.
- Become better partners with parents and/or guardians in support of their student.
- Identify at risk behavior thresholds for which notification would be effectively applied.
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 Education 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.
Taking into account the University’s goals and the guidelines outlined through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Department of Education the Office of Student Conduct has established the following procedure for notification of parents and/or guardians:
Disclosure of Discipline Records
According to FERPA, the University may disclose to the parents of a "dependent student" personally identifiable information from education records without the consent of the student. 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.
In addition, the University may notify parents when there is a health or safety emergency involving their son or daughter, even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent.
FERPA further authorizes the University to disclose disciplinary records to parents and/or guardians of students who are under the age of 21, regardless of dependency, when the records concern any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Parental and/or Guardian Notification may occur in the following situations:
- when a parent and/or guardian inquires about a specific Code of Conduct violation for which the student was found responsible of committing;
- when 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;
- when the Code of Conduct violation constitutes a situation where the student’s status at the University may be in jeopardy (i.e., housing or University status);
- when the student accepts responsibility or is found responsible, for the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- when a 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.