SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY SCHOOLS EMPLOYEE TRAINING ON CONFIDENTIALITY “SCS provides a premier education of world class distinction in a positive, collaborative environment with high levels of community engagement…” This PowerPoint was prepared by the Office of Human Resources to comply with SCS School Board Policy GAC Employee Confidentiality Anyone who has been approved to be a volunteer which includes observation, student teaching, or working in any unpaid capacity in our schools may be asked to review this presentation and sign a Confidentiality Agreement. Although not paid employees, they are expected to abide by the confidentiality policies and practices outlined in this presentation. 2011-12 School Board Policy GAC Employee Confidentiality “Spotsylvania County Schools is committed to maintaining the highest standard of confidentiality for all student and employee information. Employees have a professional and ethical responsibility to reasonably protect the confidentiality and privacy of employee and student records. All employees shall receive training on confidentiality and privacy as they relate to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As a condition of employment with Spotsylvania County Schools, all employees shall be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.” BACKGROUND Why should we have such a policy? Employees have a legal and ethical responsibility to safeguard student and employee confidentiality. We have a responsibility to create a reasonably safe environment for our employees and students relative to confidential information. to protect the confidentiality of employee and student information that is accessible due to the nature of one’s position and responsibilities. to reinforce the expectation of professional and ethical responsibilities in the workplace. to insure that we are in compliance with federal laws. to raise awareness to potential liability and be pro-active in minimizing employee and division exposure to damages. BACKGROUND (cont.) How does this policy affect me as a school employee? As an SCS employee, you have a collaborative relationship with peers and subordinates. As such, you may be privy to information that is confidential and can be damaging to the individual if the information is shared with other employees and/or community members. Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC Confidentiality – a person’s obligation to not disclose or transmit information to unauthorized parties Privacy – a uniquely personal right that reflects an individual’s freedom from intrusion Legitimate educational interest - An employee has a legitimate educational interest if the employee needs the information in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility School official - A person employed by SCS. NOTE: This does not include non-SCS employees, PTA/PTO, volunteers, parents who are not the child’s parent, and/or other students Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC (cont.) Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) established in 1974 and modified in 1996 with constant changes and revisions due to court cases and federal interpretations It is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of the students’ educational records. It gives parents (and students over 18 years old) certain rights to records maintained by the school and school personnel. It gives parents a procedure for challenging the contents of records and a hearing to have records that are inaccurate or misleading modified. It defines educational records and personal identifiable information. Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC (cont.) Personal identifiable information includes but is not limited to the student’s name, name of the student’s parent or other family member(s), social security number, personal characteristics that would make the student’s identity easily traceable Parents – those who hold custodial rights and all natural parents whose parental rights have not been terminated by a court order or other legal means. Non-custodial parent rights must be terminated by a court order or state law. Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC (cont.) Educational records – information that may take on different forms to include handwritten materials, information in print, video, audio, computer stored information, emails, pictures, film, etc. Examples include: parent information, grades, test scores, special education records, health records, courses taken, student participation in activities, discipline records, official letters regarding student status, attendance records, pictures, awards, etc. NOTE: Personal notes made by teachers or other staff members are not considered education records if they are kept in the sole possession of the maker, not accessible except to a substitute, and/or used only for memory aids. Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit for law enforcement purposes are also excluded. Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC (cont.) Directory Information – Information that, if disclosed, would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy. This includes a student’s name, address, phone number, information found in yearbooks or athletic programs, degrees/awards received, photographs, etc. NOTE: Unless the parents give written notification not to, directory information can be published without written consent. Definition of Terms Related to Policy GAC (cont.) HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) insures the privacy and security of a patient’s mental, physical, and health information. The Privacy and Security rules went into effect on April 14, 2003, with stiff penalties for those who fail to comply, or who improperly disclose or misuse protected health information. Medical records – Any record that identifies the mental, physical, or emotional health of an individual. Who has access to student and/or employee Information? “A school official with a legitimate educational interest.” Other than a SCS employee, who has access to student information without the consent of parents? • Out of county school officials in student transfer situations; • Officials for audits in compliance with federal laws; • Legal agents who present subpoenas; • Juvenile justice authorities/law enforcement agents; and • Medical personnel for health and safety emergencies. Who has access to medical information? School nurses, counselors, and instructional personnel Employees who work with special education students Administrators who supervise employees and students Employees who work with employee and student attendance Human Resources and Payroll personnel Strictly Confidential Information You must receive written consent to disclose the following information: Diagnosed learning disability Current or previous status as a “special education” student Any diagnosed medical/mental/physical condition Use of prescription medications History of drug/alcohol abuse or treatment HIV or AIDS status Official transcripts In summary… Questions/class projects that are intended to illicit information about a student’s family and their political views or religious beliefs; the mental/physical heath and/or sexual behavior of family members; family members engaging in illegal conduct; and/or anything relating to the personal beliefs of the family are prohibited. If you have access to school records, you can not discuss them or disclose them unless you follow proper procedures. Make sure that they are not accessible and are stored in a secure place. Only the parents of the child and /or those who have a legitimate educational interest should have a right to access student or employee information. Students’ records should not be discussed with anyone outside of the school setting. How can I be sure that I am doing the right thing? Collaboration with colleagues who teach the child and others who have a legitimate educational need for the information “Collaboration is required for 21st Century teaching and learning” Gossiper who loves to share “juicy stories” “Loose lips sinks ships” How can I be sure that I am doing the right thing? When in doubt, don’t release information before consulting with your administrator or the school counselor or school nurse. Obtain written consent before giving out any identifiable student information. Avoid conversations about students for whom you have no legitimate reason to discuss. Avoid discussions with non-employees about any students except their own. Avoid comments that may be heard by others in places where others can hear, i.e., grocery store, sporting events, hallways, doctor’s office. Conclusion Safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of student information is the responsibility of everyone in the division. These rights are some of the most cherished in our society. Violations of FERPA-HIPAA can be both costly for SCS, students, families, and you. Most importantly, violations can adversely affect a student’s life and ability to learn. Repercussions for Violations Employee disciplinary action School district can risk losing federal dollars Families can file punitive lawsuits against districts Employees are not immune from liability (i.e., families can file punitive lawsuits against an employee) Thanks! Have a GREAT School Year!