The Legal Context
The 19794 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) etablishes that students have primary ownership of their own educational records. Under FERPA, parents have no generally accepted right to access their student's records without the student's consent. The law does, however, permit the College to share information with parents if the student is claimed by the parent as a tax-dependent, but it does not require the school to do so.
What Parents Can Expect
Philosophically, we are committed to helping students become effective agents for lifelong learning and enhancing their capacities for self-reflection, self-reliance and self-direction. We expect students to make decisions for themselves and, as our Honor Code makes clear, to take responsibility for their successes and failures. In support of this philosophy, our policy is generally to communicate directly with students about their academic accomplishments and social and co-curricular standing. We encourage them to communicate routinely about these topics with their parents.
See FERPA Policy Statement: Student Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
At the same time, we recognize that parents and guardians have a legitimate and abiding interest in their student's progress, especially in understanding when he or she may be failing to meet the College's academic and social expectations. We seek to balance this consideration not only against our legal obligations under FERPA but also with our educational philosophy. You may expect to be informed in the case of social violations of the Honor Code if their student is placed on disciplinary probation, residential suspension, suspension or expulsion. With respect to academic progress, parents will be informed if their student is placed on very serious academic warning, suspension or dismissal.
For summaries of FERPA provisions as they relate to colleges and universities, see the US Department of Education website: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html or the Association for Student Judicial Affairs' website: http://asja.tamu.edu/).
Cases Involving Drugs or Alcohol
All colleges or universities experience challenges regarding substance use. Connecticut College is not unique with regard to issues around binge drinking, underage drinking and drug possession. According to current research, the most effective approach to tackling this problem is “environmental management,” including consistent policy enforcement and significant consequences for violations. The College’s drug and alcohol policy undergoes periodic review. While retaining the right to contact parents about alcohol or drug incidents, our practice is generally to work solely and directly with students in the case of a first violation of campus policy. We view parents as allies in this process. For a second incident, the deans may choose to contact you directly. They will always contact you in the event of a third incident.