Life Demands a
Degree of Advancement
➤ Personal;records. SSAOs know that any employee
whose duties might include access to student records must
understand the basics of the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA). Knowledge of FERPA, however, is
just the beginning. The Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA) deserves attention as well.
Moreover, proper handling of both student and employee
records, with an eye toward preventing identity theft, is key
for virtually all employees in the academy.
➤ Harassment. Throughout the 1990s, campus officials
were keenly aware of the need to provide employees instruction about sexual harassment. At some institutions, however,
that awareness has abated. Sexual harassment, as well as other
forms of harassment prohibited under either law or institutional policy, is just as serious a liability potential as ever, and
staff training is as critical.
➤ Employment;issues.;Every student affairs professional
with supervisory duties, including those who oversee student
workers, can benefit from fully understanding employment
law basics: What are institutional policies regarding employee
rights and obligations? What are the best ways to document
employee activities? How can one avoid the potential land-mines in the hiring process?
A school can implement its comprehensive employee training program for student affairs professionals in a variety of
ways. Many companies market offerings on a host of topics,
but the cost-conscious institution may prefer to develop its
own program. Home-grown training resources pose the added
advantage of incorporating an institution’s unique history
Increasingly, colleges and universities are utilizing online
training programs for their employees. While professional
training organizations offer these programs, institutions, with
the help of in-house experts and able web designers, can create
web-based instructional tools.
Whether the institution’s training program is on site
or online, it must be truly comprehensive. Content must
be meaningful, subject matter should be relevant, and
the composition of the audience should be as inclusive
Finally, the SSAO should maintain records of training
efforts. In the event a college’s or university’s training program
is material to a potential lawsuit, evidence of when the training occurred and who attended is essential.
Despite the grumbling of supervisors and staff, there are
many rewards to be reaped from an institutional commitment
to employee training. Perhaps the greatest reward is an institution’s dedication to excellence among its professionals. LE
Peter Kushibab is the former general counsel for the Maricopa County
Community College District in Arizona. Among other things, he now
teaches classes in education law and public administration at Northern
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