The previous blog posts discusses how to password protect electronically-stored documents. Given that email is not a completely private means of communication, it is important to password protect documents when sending these documents via email. One important tip is to not write the password in the email for this is not a private way of communicating the password to these documents. If possible, you could give the password to the recipient in person, or you can tell them the password over phone.
It is important to take these necessary steps for we are ethically obligated to ensure the confidentiality of records as discussed by Standard II.4.7, which writes, “To the extent that school psychological records are under their control, school psychologists protect electronic files from unauthorized release or modification (e.g., by using passwords and encryption), and they take reasonable steps to ensure that school psychological records are not lost due to equipment failure.” Furthermore, we are ethically obligated to notify parents when transmitting personally identifiable documents, as explained in Standard II.4.1, which writes, “School psychologists discuss with parents and adult students their rights regarding creation, modification, storage, and disposal of psychological and educational records that result from the provision of services. Parents and adult students are notified of the electronic storage and transmission of personally identifiable school psychological records and the associated risks to privacy.”
The aforementioned standard also discusses notifying the “parent or adult students” of the risk to privacy. This will be a much easier conversation to have with them if you let them know you are taking all the necessary steps to keep their records safe such as by password protecting documents and never writing the password to these documents in an email when sending documents to other professionals.