As legal adults (18), many high school students believe they have complete autonomy and privacy over their lives, including their education. So can school call your parents if you are 18?
When it comes to school policies, there may still be some grey areas that leave students wondering about their rights. One such area is the question of whether a school can call a student’s parents if they are 18 or older.
While no definitive answer applies to all situations, several factors can impact whether or not a school is allowed to contact the parents of adult students.
Legal Rights Of Students
You have certain legal rights regarding school communication and privacy as a student. The primary law that governs this area is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It is also known as the Buckley Amendment.
This federal law regulates how schools handle student educational records and gives students certain rights related to their privacy.
Under FERPA, schools must obtain written consent from a student before releasing any personally identifiable information from their educational records to anyone else. Yes, even parents.
This means schools cannot disclose a student’s grades, attendance records, disciplinary records, or other personally identifiable information. This includes to anyone without the student’s written permission, except in certain circumstances.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Schools may disclose student records to school officials with legitimate educational interests, such as teachers, administrators, and counselors. Schools may also disclose records in response to a court order, subpoena, or to law enforcement officials in certain circumstances.
In addition to FERPA, students may have certain privacy rights under state and local laws. Some states have laws requiring schools to obtain written consent from students before administering surveys that ask personal questions. These questions, for instance, can be about sexual behavior or drug use.
Circumstances Where School Can Call Your Parents
As a general rule, schools are not allowed to contact the parents of adult students without the student’s permission or a valid legal reason. However, there are some exceptions to this rule where school can call your parents, even if you are over 18. Here are some examples.
Emergency Situations. If a student is involved in an emergency, such as a severe illness or injury, a school may contact the parents to inform them and obtain necessary medical information.
Financial Aid. If a student receives financial aid, the school may need to contact the parents to verify income or other financial information.
Disciplinary Issues. If a student violates school policies or engages in misconduct, the school may contact the parents to inform them of the situation and discuss possible consequences.
Health And Mental Health Concerns. If a student has a health or mental health concern that is impacting their academic performance, the school may contact the parents to discuss possible accommodations or treatment options.
Academic Concerns. An academically struggling student can be why the school can call your parents. They do so to inform them of the situation and discuss possible interventions or support services.
They may also schedule a high school parent-teacher conference. To learn more about what that entails, check out my other article.
Exceptions And Special Consideration
For students with disabilities or mental health concerns, there may be some exceptions or special considerations to the general rule that schools cannot contact the parents of adult students without their permission.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools must involve parents in developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities. This means that schools can call your parents to discuss your IEP and obtain their input in developing the plan.
Similarly, if you are receiving mental health services from your school’s counseling center or mental health clinic, there may be circumstances where the school can call your parents.
For example, if a counselor determines that you are at risk of harming yourself or others. They may need to disclose this information to your parents to ensure your safety.
Note that even in these circumstances, schools should strive to respect your privacy and autonomy as much as possible. They should only disclose necessary information to address the specific situation and obtain your consent whenever possible.
Protecting Your Privacy
If you are an adult student and do not want your parents to be contacted by the school, you can take steps to protect your privacy rights.
Start by talking to your school’s administration or teachers to inform them of your concerns. Explain why you want to avoid your parents being contacted and ask if there are alternative solutions that can be explored.
If there are certain situations where you would be comfortable with the school contacting your parents, consider providing written consent for those situations. This will ensure that the school knows your wishes. And thus, will not contact your parents without your permission in other situations.
Consider seeking legal advice if you believe your privacy rights have been violated. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and the legal options available to you.
Familiarize yourself with the guidelines outlined in the FERPA to understand what information schools can and cannot disclose without your permission. If you believe that the school has violated FERPA regulations, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
Lastly, if you are dealing with a difficult situation and do not want your parents involved, seek support from other resources such as your school’s counseling center or a trusted friend or mentor.
They may be able to help you navigate the situation and find solutions that protect your privacy while ensuring that you receive the support you need.
Remember that there may be certain circumstances where the school can call your parents, such as in emergencies or if you are receiving disability or mental health services from the school.
However, the school should always strive to respect your privacy and autonomy as much as possible. It should only disclose information that is necessary to address the specific situation at hand.
In conclusion, whether or not a school can call your parents if you are 18 depends on various factors. This can include circumstances and the information being disclosed.
Generally, schools can only contact the parents of adult students with their permission or a valid legal reason. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Adult students need to understand their rights regarding school communication and privacy and to communicate their wishes clearly to the school administration.
As an adult student, you must be informed about your rights and clearly communicate your wishes to the school administration. By doing so, you can ensure that your privacy is respected while still receiving the support and resources you need from your school.