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FERPA waiver and recommendation letter

aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited November 2012 in College Admissions
My child's guidance counselor is refusing to write a letter of recommendation unless my child waives his FERPA rights. Now what do we do? Why is the question even there if you can't refuse to waive them? Without the guidance letter, the application is incomplete, thus the guidance counselor's refusal will keep my child from actually applying from college. Help!
Post edited by aby8001 on

Replies to: FERPA waiver and recommendation letter

  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,490 Senior Member
    FERPA makes it illegal for the school to share your child's education records without the family's consent. Is there a reason you're hesitant to sign?
  • collagedadcollagedad Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    if the student mistakenly chose "not waive" and is not able to change the answer, the same GC, I was told, can reset the flag so the student then can choose the "correct" setting, i.e., waive my rights. But if the decision was made on a matter of principle and GC is sticking with their decision, nothing can be done
  • aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    It's really a matter of principle. I don't believe anyone should waive their rights. I also don't believe a reference should only be candid if they know the student/parent won't see the recommendation letter. Aren't we talking about people who are professionals (teachers, guidance counselors)?
    I'm curious why the question is even there if you really cannot opt to not waive them. Without a guidance recommendation, the application is incomplete and therefore if my child exercises their Federal rights, they are being prevented from applying to college. Isn't that really the case?
  • CottageSpiritCottageSpirit Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    I had initially advised my son not to waive his rights too (on the matter of principle). His GC contacted us and let us know that without his waiving them, she couldn't submit the recommendations electronically via Naviance - but not that she couldn't/wouldn't submit them at all. Did you talk to the GC? Are you sure that s/he is refusing outright and that it's not perhaps a miscommunication issue between GC and student?

    GC did go in and reset the flag, and he waived his rights. I didn't love it, but having his application process go as smoothly and efficiently as possible was higher priority than retaining our rights to at some point go back and request access to the recommendations.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,538 Senior Member
    Make an appointment and sit down with the guidance counselor and ask for him to explain his position. It is unethical for him to insist that she waive her rights. Period. What on earth is he going to put into that letter that he doesn't want her to ever see?

    If he claims that college admissions committees interpret waived letters differently from unwaived letters, ask him to give you the name of just ONE college admissions officer who has ever gone on record in a public forum stating that that is indeed the case for at least that one single admissions officer. If his issue is that he's had the sad experience of students and/or parents hounding him about why "Joe's letter" is so much better than "Steve's letter", then he needs to, ahem, grow a pair.

    All that said, if he finds that he personally cannot in good conscience sign a letter for her if she retains her FERPA rights, then he should pass his notes and the job off to another counselor who will sign it.

    If the issue is with Naviance, then your daughter's counselor should take it up with Naviance. Why on earth is an anonymous corporation allowed to force this on students? fosterte you are so much nicer than I am. I would have dropped a stack of blank envelopes on the counselors desk along with a roll of stamps.
  • aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    This is not a misunderstanding. My child is in the top 2% of the class, has taken a rigorous course schedule, is active in school groups and is an athlete. After having some previous encounters with this school district, what they say, "we're here to help the children" is not what their behavior has shown. It appears that they do NOT like it when anyone questions what or why they do things. I really believe this is a matter of "this is how we've always done it, so you should just go along with it". As I'm sure you can tell, I'm NOT a "just go along with it" kind of mom. Hence the reason my child is in the top 2%. I have taught my child to think for themself and not simply be a sheep.
  • DeeMarieTeeDeeMarieTee Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    The main reason I have witnessed for GCs to push (and even insist on) the student waiving their rights to see LORs is for their own good -- Admissions Counselors, if they see that a student DID NOT waive their rights to view the recommendation, might wonder if the GC was perhaps somehow influenced to write a letter they would not have written if they could be completely candid. That's all. Not worth a fight. Some teachers will hand students their recommendations if asked. Others won't. But it sure makes a student look suspiciously like they're trying to hide something if they persist. Why else would you care?
  • DeeMarieTeeDeeMarieTee Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    And just to add to my last post, I did use the word MIGHT in front of wonder -- and of course, as happymom said above, no admissions counselor would ever say that they view waived/unwaived letters differently. But if there is even a possibility it might plant that seed of doubt, it doesn't seem worth it to me, when the vast, vast majority of students just "waive" without a second thought.
  • CottageSpiritCottageSpirit Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    LOL happymomof1! I'm not necessarily nicer! As a mom of 4 who takes advocating for her children very seriously, I fight a lot of battles, but I have to choose them carefully. This one just wasn't worth the time and effort. Too many other things to worry about. . .
  • aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I understand your point DeeMarie Tee. However, I also believe the fact that the vast majority are waiving their rights without a second thought is unfortunate and I don't believe it should plant a seed of doubt. However, it should plant the seed that perhaps the student is envoking the rights they are permitted and perhaps could be a good leader one day as they don't just go along, but rather ask questions. Just another way to view things.
  • aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    fosterte - I can appreciate picking the battles. I only have one child, so I have less to tackle. I just don't like feeling like I or my child are being bullied into how to respond.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,402 Super Moderator
    If the child does not want to waive the rights the teachers can decide not to write recommendations.
  • DeeMarieTeeDeeMarieTee Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Interesting perspective, aby. I do see that point and think it shows insight on the part of you and your child. I really hope it never negatively affects applications, but if a student was on the cusp, it may make the AdCom take a deeper look. however, the GC probably has that policy straight across the board, and I can only imagine if all students and parents saw the LORs and started making "suggestions."
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,946 Senior Member
    I love the expression, "Is this the hill you want to die on?" The waiver means you waive the ordinary Ferpa rights to see what they wrote about you. School policies can vary.

    LoRs represent an adult educator's view of his/her student. Many parents and kids cannot know what is a good LoR, in this situation.

    Kids are not giving up civil rights. They are allowing the teachers/GC to write privately, without looking over their shoulders. All things considered, IMO, this fight should have taken place before your child finds himself in the middle of the app process. You want allies, at this point.
  • aby8001aby8001 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Interestingly enough, the PDF version of the application, which is available prior to the actual date students can begin applying does not contain this waiver. Therefore when I reviewed the PDF version, I was unaware of the waiver. Thus not having the time to discuss in advance with the GC. Also I never imagined the GC flat out refusing. I understand it is their perogative to do so, however one would expect the guidance department to have some procedure in such cases, that a very generic letter is sent with just school profile, classes offered, and other types of generic information. It's one thing is a teacher wants to refuse as there are others to ask. Unfortunately you only have one GC your assigned to and they are the one that is suppose to write the letter.
This discussion has been closed.