Revisions to Confidentiality Policy

Following is the new text of the parental notification section of the University's Confidentiality Policy, which has been revised to incorporate the new University guidelines on parental notification regarding alcohol and drug violations. The guidelines, which took effect on November 1, 1999, were published in Almanac on November 2. This revised text supersedes the existing "parent notification" section of the Confidentiality Policy, found in PennBook at page 31 and referenced in the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators at page 122.

In the spring, the Committee on Changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is expected to report on its recommendations regarding the change to FERPA that permits disclosure of the final results of certain disciplinary proceedings. It is possible that the committee's recommendations and/or recent changes to FERPA will affect other aspects of the Confidentiality Policy. If it is appropriate to make additional revisions to the policy, any proposed changes will be published for comment.

 --Judith Rodin, President  --Robert Barchi, Provost

The "Parent Notification" section is revised to read as follows:

Parental Notification

The University of Pennsylvania is a large, diverse, coeducational, urban academic community. It offers tremendous freedom to the individual and expects that each member of the University community will act in a responsible manner. The University does not take on a parental role in relation to its students but rather assumes that students are young adults who can make their own decisions and take basic responsibility for their own lives. Thus, most communication from the University is directed to the student. The University has adopted the following policy regarding parental notification:

A. In cases involving serious injury and in emergency situations, the University may notify the parents or guardians of a student. Further, in such situations, the University will notify the individual(s) designated by the student.

B. In an emergency situation in which rape has been committed, the victim will be asked whether notification of others should occur. All rape cases are handled according to special procedures developed by the Department of Public Safety, described in the Safer Living guide distributed to all students.

C. The Director of the Office of Student Conduct may disclose to the parents or legal guardians of a student under the age of 21 information regarding the student's violation of any University policy governing the use or possession of alcohol or drugs when any of the following circumstances are present:

  1. The student has had previous, significant drug- or alcohol-related violations;
  2. The student has committed a violation which was accompanied by other serious misconduct involving personal injury to him- or herself, others, or damage to property; or
  3. The student's violation could result in a separation either from the University or from the College Houses.

A student whose parents or guardians are to be notified under any of these circumstances will be informed before such notification occurs and given an opportunity to initiate contact with his or her parents.

D. In other than emergency situations and situations involving notification regarding alcohol or drug violations, a decision to notify parents or guardians about a student's activities will be made by the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, or another senior student affairs officer, after consultation with the student's school office, if appropriate. Other offices, such as Counseling and Psychological Services, also may be consulted as appropriate. Examples of these other situations which may warrant parental notification include medical leaves of absence, emotional difficulties, and missing persons.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 15, December 14, 1999

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