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Mental health recommendations inaccurately interpreted

February 22, 2008

ASU will not require disclosure of such records

MEDIA ADVISORY — Recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Arizona Republic, the East Valley Tribune, and the State Press published this week have stated that one of the recommendations in reports assessing the Virginia Tech tragedy will require students to disclose their mental health history to universities and colleges. No such recommendation exists in any of the six independent reports that Arizona State University has reviewed.

Further, ASU is not requiring – and will not consider requiring – such disclosure.

ASU is distributing this notice to the aforementioned publications, as well as the mental health professionals who were quoted in these articles, to advise them of this error. We are also providing copies of this advisory to concerned individuals who have contacted the university as a result.

The university takes the welfare and safety of its students, faculty, and staff very seriously. In the aftermath of the shooting incidents at Virginia Tech and more recently at Louisiana Technical College and Northern Illinois University, it is to be expected that concerned institutions and government authorities will seek to develop policies, procedures, and legislation that will assure our citizens they can be safe in the places they live, work, and go to school.

In the six reports ASU has reviewed there are recommendations that relate to interpretations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) concerning what, if any, restrictions currently prevent school officials from receiving information related to educational records. A review of the various state and federal reports will confirm, however, there are no recommendations that would require students to inform a university of any mental health problems.

At ASU we have established multiple safety nets to respond to potential threats and to students at risk of harm to self or others. Consistent with current state law, FERPA and applicable ASU policies, we are able to function and communicate information internally between those school officials who have an educational interest in receiving the information.