Children in school represent perhaps the largest single group of potential subjects of research. Not only do the human subjects regulations noted herein apply to them, but so do numerous other regulations emerging from the Department of Education (DOE). These regulations limit access to both children and their school records in order to ensure their privacy. We shall note only two of the many regulations applicable to school children.

Educational Records: In 34 CFR 99 (Sections 99.30 through 99.37) DoEd specifies rules governing the privacy of and access to elementary and secondary school records. Defining these records as this directly related to the student and maintained by an educational agency or institution, DoEd gives primary rights of access to parents or guardians and to students once they have reached 18 years of age. Except for administrative, scholarship, directory, and similar purposes, schools must withhold access to personally identifiable information from educational records except with the written consent of the student or the student’s parents. This requirement for written permission applies to ALL research, except that conducted by or on behalf of educational agencies or institutions developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, or improving instruction (provided such studies will not permit identification of individual students and that personally identifying data will be destroyed upon completion of the study).

To be valid, a written consent for the disclosure of educational records must include at least three items: a specification of the records to be disclosed, the purpose or purposes of the disclosure, and the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure will be made. (There are additional human subjects consent requirements.) Upon request of the parent or the student, the agency or institution must supply to either or both a copy of the data disclosed. Te school must also maintain within the student’s file a record of the parties requesting and obtaining personally identifiable data and the legitimate interests of this parties in obtaining the information.

Inspection of Materials and Consent of Testing: In 1984 DOE added new regulations acknowledging student and parent rights with respect to research. 334 CFR 98.3 specifies that in research or experimentation programs or projects designed to develop new or unproven teaching methods or techniques, parents have the right to inspect instructional materials. Those conducting the program must make available for inspection by parents or guardians of children in the project such materials as teachers’ manuals, films, tapes, and other supplementary instructional materials.

The following section (98.4) establishes student rights regarding psychiatric or psychological examination, testing, or treatment. The regulations broadly interpret psychiatric or psychological examinations or tests to include methods of obtaining information, including group activities, that are not directly related to academic instruction and that are designed to elicit information about attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings. The corresponding notion of treatment means an activity involving the planned systematic use of methods or techniques that is not directly related to academic instruction and that is designed to affect behavioral, emotional, or attitudinal characteristics of an individual or group.

Within these broad terms, the regulations specify that no student will be required to submit or participate without the prior consent of the student or parent, as applicable, in such examinations, testing, or treatments, where the primary purpose is to reveal information concerning one or more of the following:

1. Political affiliations;

2. Mental or psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student or to his/her family;

3. Sexual behavior and attitudes;

4. Illegal,antisocial, self incriminating, and demeaning behavior;

5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom the student has close family relationships;

6. Legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; or

7. Income, other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under a program.

Although these regulations apply specifically to programs sponsored directly or indirectly by DoEd, the principles enumerated in them apply to all  research sponsored or conducted by the University. This interpretation of the standards prevents the emergence of dual standards of and assures maximal protection of child subjects.




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