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I received a letter...

The Pennsylvania State University, under the guidelines of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), notifies parents and families in specific instances where a student accepts responsibility, or is found responsible, for a violation of an alcohol or drug policy or receives a sanction that may impact their status as a student. This letter summarizes the outcome of the student's conduct process and lists the official University charge(s) and sanctions that were assigned. Parental notification is intended to involve families in the total educational experience of the student and to provide an opportunity for conversation between students and their parents/legal guardians about the experience or incident that was a violation of the Code.

The Office of Student Conduct recommends that your first response upon receiving a letter is to have a conversation with your student. If, after speaking with your student, you have further questions, you may contact the Office of Student Conduct.

For more information that may be helpful in understanding the content of your notification letter, see Terms to Know.

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.

When may parental and/or guardian notification occur?

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 notification procedures:

  1. When a parent and/or guardian inquires about a specific Code of Conduct violation for which the student was found responsible for committing
  2. 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
  3. When the Code of Conduct violation constitutes a situation where the student’s status at the University may be in jeopardy (e.g., housing or University status)
  4. When the student accepts responsibility or is found responsible, for the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance
  5. When 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.