Postsecondary Education

ADA Rights of 15-year old College Student

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Joined: Apr 28, 2005
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Posted Apr 28, 2005 at 2:52:52 AM
Subject: ADA Rights of 15-year old College Student

I hope someone here can help me. My son, who is gifted-LD, began college early at age 15. The Fall semester went smoothly, but this semester his Sociology instructor has refused to meet with him because he wants to have me, his mother, present in the meeting.

Can anyone tell me if the college has the right to refuse my son access to his instructor just because he wants to have me present? He is only 15 and, although he can advocate for himself quite a bit, he is just not old enough to be able to do this 100% on his own yet.

The college says that once he became a college student, all the parental rights transferred to my son even though he is still very much a minor.

Has anyone had a similar experience. If so, I would be interested in hearing how you resolved it.


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Joined Mar 19, 2005
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Posted:May 02, 2005 5:52:48 PM

I totally believe your post, but do you think that the sociology professor maybe thinks that your child having his mother with him for office hours is fishy? Maybe the sociology professor thinks that your son is out to dupe him somehow if he has his mother with him.
I understand how you would want to be there with your son. Heck if my late mother was still with us, I would probably take her along with my to Spanish class on occassion or something...so I promise you I am not trying to insult you. But, remember that eventually you do have to let your son go a little; even though he is a minor.
What is puzzling to me is this portion of your post :"The college says that once he became a college student, all the parental rights transferred to my son even though he is still very much a minor." That makes no sense unless your son is at West Point or something, honey! A University can not have the power to nullify parental rights, that whole ocncept of parental rights ends at the legal age of majority, or if a child is being abused and put in foster care or something, eh?
Your son does have to go it alone eventually; and I do think that a compromise could be reached with this issue. Why do you not speak with your son about the reason he has to meet with his sociology professor? And then you can gently guide him and prepare him in what he needs to do when he meets with him?

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Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:May 02, 2005 11:19:29 PM

Colleges function under some specific privacy and students' rights laws. Colleges are not permitted to give any info to the parents; they must deal with the student. The professor is probably worried about such confidentiality guidelines, just to start with.
Then there is the issue of what sort of behaviour is appropriate for a college student, and the professor may believe strongly that part of college education is to learn to deal with your own issues. There is more to learning than reading the texts or even writing the papers, and this professor may be trying to impart some important skills.

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Joined Mar 14, 2005
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Posted:May 03, 2005 10:11:23 AM

I seriously doubt that ALL parental rights transferred.

I don't know what state you're in, but here is a quote from a California public college site:

"Under Section 49061 of the [CA] Education code, parents of community college students do not have a right of access to their children’s student records, regardless of whether the student is under the age of 18. Also, under federal law (Section 1232g of Title 20 of the United States Code, there is a general right of parental access to student records, but not for college students, regardless of age."

I suppose they generalize this to include access to any information about school work.

I also suppose you could have a lawyer draft a power of attorney for you, but I'd check to see if the school would honor it before I spent the money.


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Joined Jun 14, 2003
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Posted:May 06, 2005 12:43:03 PM

There are huge confidentiality issues for college students -- but to the best of my knowledge (as a community college employee), they hinge on the student being over 18. HOwever, I can really understand the instructor being nervous about the confidentiality issues.
Would the college instructor refuse to meet with you? Without your son? (Just trying to think of creative options...)
Many college instructors believe college is about Coming Of Age and Doing Hard Things... sometimes this is good and sometimes it isn't. (Some of 'em are really into their personal power trips; they have a real mission to Teach Students About The Real World. It can be destructive or instructive, depending.) This may be one of them; he may also feel like "if you think you're smart enough to be in college, you have to be able to do everything college students do" -- whether or not this is appropriate. (He may not appreciate this Young Thing in a class that deals with such sophisticated, "adult" issues that Sociology does. SIgh.)

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:May 06, 2005 2:06:01 PM

My daughter did take some college classes very young, but being violently independent since birth, she didn't want me to have anything to do with them. She did call me in to help when the university lost her registration and some intense yelling at the registrar's office needed to be done -- nice to have your skills appreciated, I guess.

From my own experience at a number of schools, starting fairly young, the thing I most needed to learn the first time was to deal with bureaucracies -- that is what made the first go-through less than I wanted it to be. Better if possible to coach your son in how to do things himself.

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Joined Sep 12, 2006
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Posted:Sep 17, 2006 7:41:29 PM

I know that this is an older posting but I would have to assume that the college instructor is thinking hey, if this kid is supposedly smart enough and mature enough to be attending college at his young age then he shouldn’t need his mommy with him to meet with me and discuss his progress etc.

The college instructor may be thinking great this mom is going to sit there and take notes and if she doesn’t like what I have to say to her underage child, she will start to complain as if she were in a K-12 setting.

I know that if I were a college instructor I would not want student’s mommies sitting in on my meetings with them as to avoid potential problems. Also the instructor maybe thinking oh if I start to let the parents into my meetings with their students then they maybe thinking that I have granted gatekeeper status to the parents with regards to dissemination of information etc. The instructor maybe trying to avoid potential scenarios such, as oh my child gets an extra week on the paper because you did not tell me the parent that it was due this past week.

I had a couple of classes with some super smart kids who should have been in middle or high school and the only times that I saw there parents were when they were being picked up. In addition, it depends on the instructor. Some instructors might be more open to a parent being present if they think that will help the student out.

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