We are excited when students choose to further their education at Missouri Valley College. As a parent/guardian, you will provide important support, and it is valuable for you to learn about the services that are available at the college. Additionally, since your son or daughter is now an adult learner, it is important for you to become aware of your changing role.
Perhaps one of the most difficult changes you will experience is that your supportive role must be “behind the scenes.” Instead of being the spokesperson for your adult student, he/she must become a self advocate and not depend on you. However, you can still play an important role by encouraging and supporting your student’s quest to learn self-advocacy skills and become a self-sufficient adult.
There are two major laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504, that affect the way students with disabilities receive services at the postsecondary level. Another law, the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), affects the way colleges can communicate with parents and others.
The ADA and the Rehabilitation Act(Section 504)
Under these laws, colleges are required to provide equal access to their programs and activities. Additionally, there are no Individual Education Plans (IEP’S) ensuring success as there were in high school. The IEP’s are not used to document the student’s disability and do not dictate accommodations or services at the college level.
These laws indicate that it is the student's responsibility to:
- Self-identify as a person with a disability
- Provide appropriate documentation of disability
- Request accommodations that have a reasonable chance of providing him/her with equal access
- Take responsibility for own success
Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)
This law, also known as the Buckley Amendment, governs information that colleges can communicate with others regarding its students. FERPA prohibits colleges from discussing confidential information about a student, including anything related to grades or disability, without written permission from the student. Because of this law, your experience as a parent/guardian will be different from the K-12 system, since you most likely expected the high school staff to keep you informed of your child’s progress. At the high school level, the relationship was between the school district and the parents; at the college level, the relationship is between the college and the student.
You may witness your student struggling at times, but please try to squelch the urge to “rescue” and allow the student to resolve issues. You can foster growth and independence by encouraging your student to talk to his/her professors and use the resources on campus. Because you student is viewed as an adult by colleges and the law, instructors may decline to talk to parents.