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Confidentiality Guidelines

Confidentiality of Student Disability Guidelines for Faculty and Staff

All disability-related information including accommodation letters, correspondence, and consultations are considered confidential and must be managed in line with The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. This includes electronic, paper, verbal, and any other types of communication.

In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, maintaining a high standard of confidentiality also serves to maintain an environment in which students with disabilities feel respected, safe, supported, and protected.

Breaches of confidentiality are taken very seriously by Western New England University. Unauthorized disclosures of student information must be documented and can result in the University being in non-compliance with federal regulations.  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) may audit FERPA compliance and require corrective actions.  Additionally, such disclosures may violate state privacy laws and may subject the University and the individual to liability.

We recognize that disclosures of information are generally inadvertent. For this reason, a high level of vigilance to avoid unintentional but inappropriate disclosure of disability information must be maintained.

Student Disability Services offers the following guidelines for faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure that confidential student information is kept secure:

All information that a student shares with a faculty member should be used specifically for arranging accommodations for the course of study.

Documentation:

  • Student disability information should not be visible on your computer or in any printed format that others can see.
  • Letters of accommodation should be filed in a safe place and disposed of securely at the end of the semester.
  • Requesting specific information about a student’s disability is not appropriate. Instead, faculty should focus any inquiry on how a student’s learning is impacted by their disability.
  • Requesting a letter from the student’s physician is not appropriate. The Accommodation Letter is all that is needed to justify the accommodation and supersedes any letter from the student’s provider.
  • If a student voluntarily discloses the nature of their disability to you, even if it is obvious, do not disclose it to others
    • Example: A TA who is providing Student Disability Services with a list of the required books for the course only needs to know that the book list is needed, not which student the request is related to.
  • Do not accept a student’s primary disability documentation, even if it is offered to you by the student him/herself. Instead, refer the student to Student Disability Services. WNE has designated Student Disability Services as the repository of all disability documentation for students with disabilities.

Conversations:

  • Conversations, casual or otherwise with colleagues about a student’s disability status should only occur if expressed approval has been given by the student or Student Disability Services.
  • When discussing a student’s disability related accommodations, do so in a private location, out of the hearing range of others (i.e. other students (without or with disabilities), faculty, staff, and student workers).
  • At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request.

Please contact Student Disability Services if there are any questions, issues, or concerns regarding maintaining confidentiality of information.

Bonni Alpert, Ed.D

Assistant Dean

Student Disability Services

Western New England University

Phone: (413) 782-1257

Tabitha Mancini, M.A., Educational Psychology

Associate Director and Assistive Technology Specialist

Student Disability Services

Western New England University

Phone: (413) 782-1513

Jenny Brazenall

Coordinator

Student Disability Services

Western New England University

Phone: (413) 782-1258