DART Toolkit II: Legal Issues — ADHD Case Example
David is a first-year student in a Master’s Degree program for Child Psychology. He has been tested for and diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. He is currently seeing a psychiatrist through the university and taking medication for ADHD. He disclosed to his university’s disabilities office that he has ADHD, provided documentation and requested accommodations for a distraction-free testing environment. David reports that the distraction-free environment has been beneficial to him, and he has been getting A’s and B’s on most of his exams. David’s mother has been concerned about his academic performance, and she has been calling you, the director of training, to ask about his grades and what accommodations he has been receiving. She said that as an undergraduate, he struggled academically until his ADHD was diagnosed and he received testing accommodations (distraction free and time and a half). Since he moved to a different city for this Master’s program, she has not been in frequent contact with him, and she just wants to make sure he’s performing well and getting the accommodations he needs.
As a graduate student and no longer a dependent of his parents, David is considered an “eligible student” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This statute protects the student’s educational records, including information related to disabilities and accommodations, and regulates disclosure of such information. Until students reach age 18 or enter a postsecondary institution, their parents are granted access rights to their educational information. After that point, however, rights are transferred to the student. In David’s situation, you may not disclose information, even to his mother, about his disability, grades or the accommodations he is or is not receiving unless you have his written permission to do so. To comply with FERPA, one possible response in this situation would be to thank David’s mother for her concern, briefly state why you are bound to keep that information confidential and encourage her to communicate with David directly to address her concerns.