Our “college students” are still in high school, and the parents are calling the shots, so why won’t the college talk to you? Because you need a FERPA waiver.
A very simple explanation of FERPA is that it’s a Federal law protecting your teen’s right to educational privacy and access to their own records. In the same way HIPAA protects our health records from being shared, FERPA protects your teen’s records. Since dual enrollment administrative duties fall onto the homeschooling parent (who is also the school administrator and educational planner), the parent may need or want to sit in on academic advising sessions, dual enrollment sessions, program application sessions, or any other interaction concerning your teen’s academic record. In other words, the homeschooling parent needs a FERPA waiver on file with the college(s) their teen is using so you can be your teen’s guidance counselor.
Your teen’s FERPA waiver grants you authorization
From behind the scenes, you should know that teachers and administrators are terrified of FERPA. A college employee will ALWAYS err on the side of restricting your access rather than granting it and facing termination.
This FAQ was posted on my son’s college website:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: “Why can’t you tell me information about my son/daughter/spouse?”
A: The College is bound by FERPA to protect student information unless we are given written consent in person, by the student to do otherwise. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause and we encourage you to have your student contact us to obtain the information directly themselves.
Q: “What if my son/daughter/spouse cannot give me written permission to speak with the college?”
A: Unless the College has a Consent to Disclose form on file, we will not be able to help you.
Your teen’s college will have some type of form they can fill out- either a “Consent to Disclose” or “FERPA waiver” but if this isn’t automatically part of their dual enrollment registration process (it usually isn’t) then you’ll want to specifically ask for this form. Be aware that your teen is granting you access, so it’s a form that they must fill out.
If a student under 18 is enrolled in both high school and a local college, do parents have the right to inspect and review his or her education records?
“If a student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school. Additionally, the postsecondary institution may disclose personally identifiable information from the student’s education records to the parents, without the consent of the eligible student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under the IRS rules. “
Based on the actual wording of their answer, I do believe that a homeschooling parent (as opposed to a parent who is not the administrator of their teen’s school) should automatically have access because the parent is “the school” but that is a fight for another season. When push comes to shove, it only takes a few minutes to fill out the waiver, and once it’s on file, your teen is covered for the year and you can get on with the busy task of Homeschooling for College Credit.
Though it goes beyond the scope of today’s post, there are a lot of interesting aspects of FERPA, if you’re interested in reading more, I encourage you to do so! But for now, get the waiver!