Education Department Announces Changes in Colleges’ Disciplinary Policies
Colleges and universities may no longer be able to shield some internal student disciplinary procedures from public view, the U.S. Department of Education says in a potentially far-reaching policy.A number of complex changes to FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, were implemented this summer to meet the requirements of a 1998 bill passed by Congress. As a result, parents and safety advocates may get more information about internal campus judicial hearings used to discipline students for offenses that could trigger jail time or court trials if adjudicated outside a college campus.For example, one change would allow the public to obtain information about internal campus judicial hearings in which a student is accused of a violent crime.“Colleges will no longer be able to exploit federal privacy laws to protect campus criminals,” said S. Daniel Carter, vice president of Security on Campus, a Pennsylvania advocacy group. “Doing so only protected the school’s image while putting other students needlessly at risk.”Another change may offer parents more information if their children are penalized for under-age drinking. Under previous law, parents lacked the right to receive information about alcohol infractions involving their children. With the new policy, colleges can design their own rules on how to deal with parental notification for students under 21. Some colleges already have offered parents more access to information.
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