Sections
You are here: Home Office for Disability Services Applying for Services from ODS Confidentiality and Release of Information

Confidentiality and Release of Information


The Office for Disability Services (ODS) is committed to ensuring that all information regarding a student is maintained confidentially as required or permitted by law. Any information collected is used for the benefit of the student. This information may include psycho-educational testing, grades, biographical history, disability information, and case notes.

Procedures for handling student information has been adopted by ODS and is rigorously followed by the staff of ODS. Students are informed of their confidentiality rights during their first meeting with ODS.

The following are ODS policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and the release of information from a student's file:

  1. Student information obtained by Penn State University shall only be shared with others within the institution on a need-to-know basis. Only the disability service staff has immediate access to student files and records. For example, University faculty and staff do not have a right or a need to access diagnostic or other information regarding a student's disability; they only need to know what academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services are necessary or appropriate to meet the student's disability-related needs. If a student has requested an academic adjustment, auxiliary aid, and/or service the student will be informed as to what information is being provided to the faculty or staff regarding the request. To protect confidentiality by assuring limited access, all disability-related information must be filed within the disability services office at every Penn State location.
  2. Information in files will not be released except in accordance with federal and state laws, which require release in the following circumstances if a student:
    • States that they intend to harm themselves or another person(s).
    • Reports or describes any physical abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults within the last three years (this includes the occurrence of abuse or neglect to the student if he or she was under age eighteen at the time of the abuse).
    • Reports the use of an illegal drug for non-medical purpose during pregnancy.
    • Reports or describes sexual exploitation by counseling or healthcare professionals.
  3. A student's file may be released pursuant to a court order or subpoena.
  4. A student may give written authorization for the release of information when she or he wishes to share it with others. Before giving such authorization, the student should understand the information being released, the purpose of the release, and to whom the information is being released. Information will not be released without consent unless federal or state law requires it.
  5. ODS will not release information to a student, outside agency, parent, etc. that was obtained directly from a third party (e.g., if documentation, records or information regarding a student is obtained directly from a physician, the information will not be released). The student, outside agency, parent, etc. will need to obtain the documentation, records or information directly from the third party who originally supplied the information.
  6. ODS may charge a reasonable fee for costs incurred in connection with the copying of information.