Protection of Pupil Rights Amendments (PPRA)

And how it applies to suicide prevention
programs in Utah schools
February 28, 2014
Passed in 1978 as an amendment to the Family
Education Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA).
Intended to protect the rights of parents and
students in 2 ways:
• 1. Any material used by students in ED funded surveys,
analyses, or evaluations must be made available to
parents to inspect prior to use with their child.
• 2. It ensures that schools and contractors acquire written
parental consent before a minor student is required to
participate in ED funded surveys, analyses or evaluations
which may reveal personal information about certain
Passed in 1994 by the Utah Legislature
Expands on the federal PPRA
The purpose of the law is to establish that certain
issues or areas of discussion are best discussed in a
private or family setting and should only be
discussed in a school setting or with school
personnel with parental permission.
An additional purpose is to direct educators to
contact parents or guardians if the educator believes
that a student is in a dangerous situation.
“Policies adopted by a school district under
Section 53A-13-301 shall include prohibitions
on the administration to a student of any
psychological or psychiatric examination,
test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or
evaluation without the prior written consent of
the student's parent or legal guardian, in
which the purpose or evident intended effect
is to cause the student to reveal information,
whether the information is personally
identifiable or not, concerning the student's
or any family member's…”
political affiliations or, . . .political philosophies;
mental or psychological problems;
sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or
family member has close family relationships;
religious affiliations or beliefs;
legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships,
such as those with lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers;
income, except as required by law.
 Do “mental
or psychological problems”
include questions about suicide?
 Most
likely, yes. Even the most strict
interpretation would likely agree that
suicidal ideation is a mental or
psychological problem.
 “Except
in the response to a situation which
a school employee reasonably believes to
be an emergency…disclosure to a parent or
legal guardian must be given at least two
weeks before information protected under
this section is sought.”
 In other words, disclosure must be provided
to parents 2 week prior to the time of the
discussion of a protected topic, UNLESS the
situation is an emergency situation.
 With
the passage of several suicide bills last
year, there was heightened focus on suicide
prevention programs and interventions for
students with suicidal ideation. The
following questions were raised:
• Does this exception allow school employees to talk
to a student or a group of students about suicide?
• Is the topic itself emergency enough?
• How can we find out for sure if it is an emergency:
student is serious, accessible weapons, etc.?
• Are we allowed to ask a couple preliminary
questions regarding the mental or psychological
The law and the exception, as currently written, would not
likely allow for a suicide prevention program that would
train teachers and/or other students to ask probing
questions, recognize the signs of suicide, and refer any high
risk students to the right person.
“[S]ome students may reveal a mental or psychological
problem in response to certain questions, and at that point,
school employees would be evaluating and/or analyzing
students for a risk of suicide.”
“[T]he emergency exception is not broad enough to allow
school districts to implement suicide prevention programs
 Yes.
During the 2014 legislative session,
a bill was passed that amends the law to
allow for the implementation of suicide
prevention programs and direct and
probing questions that currently may run
afoul the law without prior written
parental consent.
Allows a school employee or SRO to intervene and ask a student
questions regarding the student's suicidal thoughts, physical elfharming behavior, or thoughts of harming others, for the purposes of:
• referring the student to appropriate prevention services; and
• informing the student's parents
Requires a school district or charter school to develop a policy related
to school employee intervention measures on or before September 1,
Allows a public school suicide prevention program and school
personnel to ask a student questions related to youth suicide
prevention, intervention, or postvention.
This bill has been signed into law and is effective May 13, 2014 .
If a school employee, agent, or school resource officer believes a
student is at-risk of attempting suicide, physical self-harming, or
harming others, the school employee or agent, or school resource
officer may intervene and ask a student questions regarding the
student’s suicidal thoughts, physically self-harming behavior, or
thoughts of harming others for the purposes of:
• Referring the student to appropriate prevention services; and
• Informing the student’s parents or legal guardian.
On or before Sept. 14, 2014, a school district or charter school
shall develop and adopt a policy regarding school employee
intervention measures consistent with Subsection (7)(a) while
requiring the minimum degree of intervention to accomplish the
goals of this section.
A public school suicide prevention program may allow school
personnel to ask a student questions related to youth suicide
prevention, intervention, or postvention.
Current law requires LEAs to implement a youth suicide
prevention program in the secondary grades, which must
include prevention of youth suicides; youth suicide
intervention; and postvention for family, students, and
The law also requires the State Office of Education, in
collaboration with the Department of Health to develop
model programs to provide program training and resources
to school districts/charter schools.
This bill provides that the programs implemented by LEAs
must be “evidence-based practices and programs, OR
emerging best practices and programs, for preventing
The bill also amends the requirement that school
districts must offer a parent seminal once a year to
now state a school district shall offer a parent
seminar once a year “for each 11,000 students
enrolled in the district.”
• In other words, if a district has 55,000 students enrolled, the
district must offer the seminar 5 times a year.
Finally, the bill amends the curriculum for the parent
seminar to include suicide prevention “including
education on limiting access to fatal means”
• This is in addition to the training on substance abuse, bullying,
mental health, depression, and internet safety.
 53A-11a-203
(passed last year) requires a
school to report to parents any incident of
bullying or threat of suicide involving
their student.
 The
law also requires the school to
maintain a record of that report, and
prohibits disclosure of that record to
anyone other than the parents.
Please feel free to contact me at:
[email protected]
(801) 538-7832

similar documents