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What can be disclosed in college recommendation letters regarding disabilities?

Dear Stacey,

This is an important and difficult question. As a general matter, a child’s status as a student with a disability is protected by IDEA and typically protected by states’ school records and privacy laws.

However, the procedure used by some schools for submission of recommendations often provides an option for the student to waive the right to review the recommendation in order to allow the reviewer to write an honest appraisal of the student. Legally, a student’s disability should not be disclosed without their consent, but this is an example where there is some risk that such a disclosure could occur even though the information should have been protected, absent student consent.

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