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FERPA CONSIDERATIONS in running a student-based Academic Support mentoring program Christopher Hawthorne Clinical Professor & Assistant Director, Academic.

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Presentation on theme: "FERPA CONSIDERATIONS in running a student-based Academic Support mentoring program Christopher Hawthorne Clinical Professor & Assistant Director, Academic."— Presentation transcript:

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2 FERPA CONSIDERATIONS in running a student-based Academic Support mentoring program Christopher Hawthorne Clinical Professor & Assistant Director, Academic Support Program Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

3 Academic Support is a Minefield … … of potential FERPA problems. … of potential FERPA problems. Communication of “educational records” occurs between: Communication of “educational records” occurs between: Professor  ASP Professional Professor  ASP Professional Professor  ASP Student Professor  ASP Student ASP Student Mentor  ASP Student ASP Student Mentor  ASP Student Administrator  ASP Professional Administrator  ASP Professional … and any combination of the above. … and any combination of the above.

4 But some mines are more explosive than others … Specifically, Student mentors. Boom! Why? Specifically, Student mentors. Boom! Why? They’re not lawyers They’re not lawyers They’re not professionals They’re not professionals They’re not grownups (a lot of the time) They’re not grownups (a lot of the time) But they are LAW STUDENTS: But they are LAW STUDENTS: Jealous Jealous Gossipy Gossipy Insecure Insecure Sleep-deprived Sleep-deprived Solution: Establish a professional rapport with your student mentors, and reinforce as often as possible. Solution: Establish a professional rapport with your student mentors, and reinforce as often as possible. This makes your students better mentors … This makes your students better mentors … … and also magically deals with many FERPA concerns. … and also magically deals with many FERPA concerns. What happens if you don’t establish a professional context? What happens if you don’t establish a professional context?

5 Let’s Play FERPA Telephone! ASP Professional talks to ASP Mentor – ASP Professional talks to ASP Mentor – Tells Mentor that Student got a D on her Torts midterm. Tells Mentor that Student got a D on her Torts midterm. Tells Mentor to be aware of Student’s poor work habits: Tells Mentor to be aware of Student’s poor work habits: Saw Student’s briefs; they were not good. She is having trouble formulating rules and holdings. Saw Student’s briefs; they were not good. She is having trouble formulating rules and holdings. Student failed to attend Legal Method 2, which is mandatory for Fall ASP students. Student failed to attend Legal Method 2, which is mandatory for Fall ASP students. Student failed to show up for two different appointments with ASP Professional. Student failed to show up for two different appointments with ASP Professional. Tells Mentor that Student may be in denial about her poor performance. Tells Mentor that Student may be in denial about her poor performance. Student is a regular at Thursday night beer bashes, which occur in front of faculty building – but complains she doesn’t have enough time in the day to study. Student is a regular at Thursday night beer bashes, which occur in front of faculty building – but complains she doesn’t have enough time in the day to study. Student is talking about various extracurricular activities – Moot Court, Trial Ad Team, Law Review - not realizing that she has no realistic chance at these unless she pulls her grades up. Student is talking about various extracurricular activities – Moot Court, Trial Ad Team, Law Review - not realizing that she has no realistic chance at these unless she pulls her grades up.

6 What would a professional get from this conversation? “This student needs help with work habits, organization and time management.” “This student needs help with work habits, organization and time management.” Give her a time management chart. Give her a time management chart. Put her on an outline schedule. Put her on an outline schedule. Make sure she’s briefing, and doing it right. Make sure she’s briefing, and doing it right. Make sure she attends all the exam workshops. Make sure she attends all the exam workshops. Explain that, before you can do all this cool stuff – Moot Court, etc. – you have to remain in good standing. The good news is – all the hard work is worth it to get to the cool stuff. Explain that, before you can do all this cool stuff – Moot Court, etc. – you have to remain in good standing. The good news is – all the hard work is worth it to get to the cool stuff. But remember … jealous, gossipy, insecure, sleep-deprived. But remember … jealous, gossipy, insecure, sleep-deprived.

7 Let’s Play FERPA Telephone! (cont’d) ASP Mentor talks to student (probably at the Thursday beer bash). ASP Mentor talks to student (probably at the Thursday beer bash). Tells Student that he knows about her midterm grade: D. Tells Student that he knows about her midterm grade: D. Student (anxious): What did Professor X think about that? Student (anxious): What did Professor X think about that? Mentor: Dunno, probably that it sucks. Mentor: Dunno, probably that it sucks. Tells Student that ASP Professional doesn’t think she’s smart. Tells Student that ASP Professional doesn’t think she’s smart. Employing the two most common law student skills: Distill, distort. Employing the two most common law student skills: Distill, distort. Tells Student she should stop partying so much – Professor X thinks she’s a loser. Tells Student she should stop partying so much – Professor X thinks she’s a loser. Student (louder – other students can now hear): Yeah? Well, Professor X is a loser – all he does is help law students with their homework. Student (louder – other students can now hear): Yeah? Well, Professor X is a loser – all he does is help law students with their homework. Last: Dude, forget about Moot Court and stuff – you’re gonna be lucky to stay in law school. Last: Dude, forget about Moot Court and stuff – you’re gonna be lucky to stay in law school. Student (very loudly – now the cafeteria staff and the Dean can hear): I don’t know if I even want to be in law school! I hate this place! And Professor X is an (expletive deleted)! Student (very loudly – now the cafeteria staff and the Dean can hear): I don’t know if I even want to be in law school! I hate this place! And Professor X is an (expletive deleted)! Student runs away. Mentor stays, and now has a great story to tell everybody else at the beer bash. Student runs away. Mentor stays, and now has a great story to tell everybody else at the beer bash.

8 When should your FERPA antennae go up? Whenever a student’s “educational records” change hands. Whenever a student’s “educational records” change hands. Those antennae should be part of the forest of antennae on your head, generally labeled: “Protecting ASP Student Privacy.” Those antennae should be part of the forest of antennae on your head, generally labeled: “Protecting ASP Student Privacy.” What’s an “educational record”? What’s an “educational record”? Any record that (1) identifies a particular student and (2) is maintained by an educational institution. Any record that (1) identifies a particular student and (2) is maintained by an educational institution. A “record” is information that is recorded or maintained in some way. A “record” is information that is recorded or maintained in some way. Just to be safe, you should consider verbal communications of educational information to be “records”. Just to be safe, you should consider verbal communications of educational information to be “records”.

9 Radioactive FERPA Material Information about a student’s: Information about a student’s: Grades Grades Work habits Work habits Class performance Class performance Performance in Academic Support Programs Performance in Academic Support Programs Reputation in class Reputation in class In other words, all the stuff we talk about, all the time. In other words, all the stuff we talk about, all the time.

10 Good news: Information that remains in the sole possession of an education official or faculty member is not an “educational record.” Information that remains in the sole possession of an education official or faculty member is not an “educational record.” You don’t need written consent to share educational records with another education official in the same institution … You don’t need written consent to share educational records with another education official in the same institution … … Or to discuss those records with the student in question. … Or to discuss those records with the student in question. For the purposes of FERPA, your Teacher’s Assistant is considered an extension of YOU. For the purposes of FERPA, your Teacher’s Assistant is considered an extension of YOU. So, records shared with your TA and no one else are still considered “sole possession” records. So, records shared with your TA and no one else are still considered “sole possession” records. For our purposes, we will consider a student mentor a “TA.” For our purposes, we will consider a student mentor a “TA.”

11 Who can you talk to?* * (or, for Legal Writing people, “To whom may you talk?”)

12 Our Mentoring Program Model Fall Semester: Fall Semester: Only open to first-year students in the bottom 10% of the entering class. Only open to first-year students in the bottom 10% of the entering class. All of the students have already been through 3 weeks of Summer Institute All of the students have already been through 3 weeks of Summer Institute Last year, about 40 students, served by about 27 mentors. Last year, about 40 students, served by about 27 mentors. Mentors are second- and third-year students. Mentors are second- and third-year students. Each mentor meets one-on-one with the student for at least 30 minutes a week. Each mentor meets one-on-one with the student for at least 30 minutes a week. Mentoring help is skills-based. Mentoring help is skills-based. Each mentor spends another minutes per student, per week, reviewing the student’s outlines, briefs, sample exam answers, etc. Each mentor spends another minutes per student, per week, reviewing the student’s outlines, briefs, sample exam answers, etc.

13 Our Mentoring Program Model (cont’d) Fall Semester (cont’d) Fall Semester (cont’d) Students also attend one-hour workshops for the first seven weeks of the semester, taught by ASP professors (Kamita & Hawthorne). Students also attend one-hour workshops for the first seven weeks of the semester, taught by ASP professors (Kamita & Hawthorne). After seven weeks, those workshops are replaced by subject-specific exam workshops, taught by the mentors. After seven weeks, those workshops are replaced by subject-specific exam workshops, taught by the mentors. Students are also required to attend two weekend skills workshops, taught by Prof. Kamita. Students are also required to attend two weekend skills workshops, taught by Prof. Kamita. Spring Semester Spring Semester Is the same, except – Is the same, except – We serve the bottom 10% of the class, based on first semester grades. We serve the bottom 10% of the class, based on first semester grades. There are no tutorials taught by ASP professors. There are no tutorials taught by ASP professors.

14 Radioactive FERPA Moments … … occur when we have to exchange “educational records” with the mentors. … occur when we have to exchange “educational records” with the mentors. Monthly, we have a lunch meeting, in which we discuss the mentees’ progress as a group. Monthly, we have a lunch meeting, in which we discuss the mentees’ progress as a group. All of the student mentors are required to keep written notes on each mentee, which they submit to us at the end of the semester. All of the student mentors are required to keep written notes on each mentee, which they submit to us at the end of the semester. Student mentors are admonished to tell us when a mentee is having unusual difficulty, either in school, or on a personal level. Student mentors are admonished to tell us when a mentee is having unusual difficulty, either in school, or on a personal level.

15 … so we have certain “best practices” for dealing with student mentors ESTABLISH THE PROFESSIONAL CONTEXT, AND RETURN TO IT OFTEN. ESTABLISH THE PROFESSIONAL CONTEXT, AND RETURN TO IT OFTEN. Remind the mentors that they will soon be lawyers, and need to practice discretion. Remind the mentors that they will soon be lawyers, and need to practice discretion. Imagine the mentee is your client – what would you need to keep confidential? Imagine the mentee is your client – what would you need to keep confidential? Explain the function of staff meetings at a law firm: privileged information stops at the conference room door. Explain the function of staff meetings at a law firm: privileged information stops at the conference room door. When giving the mentor information about a student, always discuss your overall goals for the student first – it provides a context for sensitive information. When giving the mentor information about a student, always discuss your overall goals for the student first – it provides a context for sensitive information.

16 “Best practices” continued CHOOSE YOUR MENTORS CAREFULLY, USING A ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW CHOOSE YOUR MENTORS CAREFULLY, USING A ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW Former (successful) ASP students usually make the best mentors. Former (successful) ASP students usually make the best mentors. Top 5% students … generally not. Top 5% students … generally not. Students with good Legal Writing grades often make good mentors. Students with good Legal Writing grades often make good mentors. But Law Review editors … usually too busy. But Law Review editors … usually too busy. Interviews also allow you to pair personality types: Interviews also allow you to pair personality types: Type-A mentor with lazy student. Type-A mentor with lazy student. Calm mentor with freaked-out student. Calm mentor with freaked-out student. High-energy mentor with laid-back student. High-energy mentor with laid-back student.

17 “Best practices” continued WRITE AND DISTRIBUTE A STUDENT MENTOR HANDBOOK. WRITE AND DISTRIBUTE A STUDENT MENTOR HANDBOOK. This puts the mentors on notice about what we expect in the way of professionalism and discretion. It also contains a list of predictable crises in the mentor-student relationship. This puts the mentors on notice about what we expect in the way of professionalism and discretion. It also contains a list of predictable crises in the mentor-student relationship. USE CODE NAMES FOR MENTEES IN GROUP MEETINGS. USE CODE NAMES FOR MENTEES IN GROUP MEETINGS. This allows us to exchange information about students in the meeting, without disclosing individualized information to the group. This allows us to exchange information about students in the meeting, without disclosing individualized information to the group. MAKE SURE YOUR MENTORS KEEP WRITTEN NOTES. MAKE SURE YOUR MENTORS KEEP WRITTEN NOTES. This protects your mentors from “malpractice” actions if the student blames them for their lack of success. This protects your mentors from “malpractice” actions if the student blames them for their lack of success. KNOW YOUR SCHOOL’S RISK AREAS KNOW YOUR SCHOOL’S RISK AREAS Insecure school website. Insecure school website. Psychological counseling office that posts a list of appointments, complete with names, on the office door. Psychological counseling office that posts a list of appointments, complete with names, on the office door. Student Affairs Dean with open door and incredibly loud voice. Student Affairs Dean with open door and incredibly loud voice.

18 What we don’t do (yet) We don’t: We don’t: Ask for FERPA waivers from students. Ask for FERPA waivers from students. Assign specific mentors to each ASP Professor (which would make their communications “sole possession” information, and not subject to FERPA). Assign specific mentors to each ASP Professor (which would make their communications “sole possession” information, and not subject to FERPA). Ask student mentors to sign a confidentiality agreement. Ask student mentors to sign a confidentiality agreement.

19 Resource list: Regulations: Regulations: Secondary source: Secondary source: Clifford A. Ramirez, Managing the Privacy of Student Records: A Textbook of FERPA Basics. (LRP Publications 2002). Clifford A. Ramirez, Managing the Privacy of Student Records: A Textbook of FERPA Basics. (LRP Publications 2002). Available from the LRP Publications website - new edition coming soon. Available from the LRP Publications website - new edition coming soon.


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