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Accessibility Services at Aquinas College

Confidentiality and Student Records

Confidentiality

Accessibility Services strives to treat all personal information with the strictest confidentiality. Documentation of the student’s disability is kept confidential and is not considered a part of the student’s official academic record.

The specifics of the student’s disability will only be released in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or with the student’s expressed written consent.

How Students’ Records are Processed

For each student served, Accessibility Services creates an electronic file that contains both internal and external documents.

The electronic records are kept in one of two places:  

  1. in the Aquinas College’s Colleague student record database and
  2. in an internal database in Accessibility Services. Only those who have been given the security clearance by the Director of Accessibility Services may access the password protected Colleague record.  This data record only includes disability and accommodations codes designed to track statistical data as required by law.  The Colleague data does not contain any confidential personal student records such as medical or psychological reports.  This data is not included on any student reports or revealed on transcripts or any other personal student records. This statistical data is not expunged.  

Only Accessibility Services personnel access the Accessibility Services' internal database. It is used mainly for eligibility determination, file management, and service tracking purposes. Electronic records in this database are expunged seven years after the student’s last semester of enrollment.

Duration of Possession of Students Records

Accessibility Services owns and maintains students’ files in secure storage for up to seven years after the last semester in which the student was enrolled at the college. After that time, Disability Services destroys the electronic file and all its contents. Accessibility Services encourages students to obtain and keep copies of their documentation for future uses.

Requesting Students Records

Students may request a copy of their files by signing an Authorization for Release of Information This form needs to be submitted to Accessibility Services.  

Releasing Student’s Information

Written authorizations are required to release confidential information to persons or entities outside of Aquinas College. This includes parents. Students are required to sign an Authorization for Release of Information to authorize Accessibility Services to release their information to the third party including their parents or other family members.

On occasion, third parties, such as courts of law and civil rights investigators, may legally order Accessibility Services to release information with or without a signed authorization from the student.

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Accessibility Services may release information to Aquinas College faculty and staff when a "need to know" that information is established by Accessibility Services. The need to know must be based on compelling and legitimate educational reasons for the information disclosure. Generally speaking, faculty and staff do not need to know what the student's disability is. These college officials merely need to know that Accessibility Services verified the disability and the student's right to reasonable modifications. Likewise, faculty and staff (outside of Accessibility Services) have no right to access student files directly. On occasion, internal auditing and monitoring of student information may occur, but only under the strictest confidentiality protections.