6

In addition to teaching at a U.S. university, I also do some private tutoring on the side. I am always scrupulous about observing my university's conflict of interest policy, which prohibits tutoring a student who is taking a course that I am currently teaching (even if he is in a different section of the same course). When I'm wearing my "university hat", I know I am bound by FERPA, which prohibits me from (among other things) discussing any student's academic performance with his or her parents, regardless of whether or not they are paying the student's tuition. (Some parents have a hard time with the idea that they are not allowed to be kept informed of their student's grades.)

It's not clear to me, though, whether the same prohibition applies when I am wearing my "private tutor" hat. In particular, if a parent is paying for private tutoring for their college-aged child, and that parent wants updates on how those private lessons are going, am I allowed to divulge that information?

  • 1
    www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html : "The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education." – Nate Eldredge Jan 24 '17 at 1:25
  • 2
    Note, however, that FERPA only protects education records which are "maintained by the university or a party acting on behalf of the university". Personal observations about things that are not in, or informed by, the student's education record are not protected by FERPA. – ff524 Jan 24 '17 at 1:33
  • 2
    Still, I can't imagine that it would be a good idea to share information about your students without their consent, even if it is allowed by law. – ff524 Jan 24 '17 at 1:34
  • 1
    @ff524: If I were a parent paying for private tutoring, I would certainly expect to get information on how the tutoring was going. – Ben Crowell Jan 24 '17 at 2:16
  • 4
    @Ben There's no reason not to get the (adult) student's consent. If the student won't consent and parent wants the info anyways, personally I'd turn down the job. – ff524 Jan 24 '17 at 2:18
2

On page 3, "FERPA applies to educational agencies or institutions that receive funds from programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education." Because you are a PRIVATE tutor and do not receive funds from the US Department of Education, you are not subject to FERPA. However, there is a fuzzy line on when you're tutoring as an agent of the University or when you are acting on your own. I would recommend as to not juggling the two, that you stick with FERPA laws and respect the student's privacy. Best would be to get written consent from the student to discuss his/her progress with his/her parents.

2

When I'm wearing my "university hat", I know I am bound by FERPA, which prohibits me from (among other things) discussing any student's academic performance with his or her parents, regardless of whether or not they are paying the student's tuition.

I believe it is incorrect to think that discussing student's academic performance with parents is completely prohibited, even under the "university" hat. Please see the following from the FERPA language (from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/parents.html) itself:

FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records of an "eligible student" (a student age 18 or older or enrolled in a postsecondary institution at any age) to his or her parents if the student is a "dependent student" as that term is defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, if either parent has claimed the student as a dependent on the parent's most recent income tax statement, the school may non-consensually disclose the student's education records to both parents.

This was something that was brought up in several committees at my institution (in the US) recently.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.