FERPA Training March 2008 Bruce Correll Registrar
What is FERPA and why training NOW? • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, better known as FERPA or the Buckley Amendment, was established to guarantee the rights of student to control access to their educational records. The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) was established to define the steps that need to be taken for an institution to be FERPA compliant. • In 2005 the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Officers of Admission (AACROA) surveyed several thousand faculty members across the United States. Despite a pretty low response rate, the results published in the College and University Journal volume 82 first quarter 2006 showed a large number of faculty did not understand their role in FERPA implementation. This document is Lehigh’s effort to ensure that faculty understands their rights and responsibilities under FERPA. My hope is that every faculty member here is already aware of this issue and learns nothing from this document.
FERPA provides 4 basic rights to a student: • To view the information (records) that the institution is maintaining about the student, • To seek amendment of those records and, in certain cases append a statement to those record, • To consent to disclosure of his/her records, • To file a complaint with the FERPA office in Washington, D.C.
What is Directory information? • It is information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, if NO Confidentiality flag is set. Directory Information may be disclosed without the permission of the student. Lehigh’s policy defines directory information to include;
Directory Information • student's name; • home and University address; • mailbox number; • home and University phone numbers; • date and place of birth; • name of parent or guardian; • name of spouse; • major field of college student; • class; • participation in sports and in officially recognized activities listed by the student; weight and height of members of athletic teams; • dates of attendance; • degrees and awards received; • and the most recently attended educational institution.
When do FERPA rights begin? • They begin for a student when he or she becomes 18 or enrolls in a higher education institution at any age.
When is prior consent not required to distribute educational records? • The University may release a student’s educational record without his or her consent, but is not required to do so. Some of the exceptions to the written release requirement include disclosing educational records:
To “School officials” with a “legitimate educational interest” / “need to know;” Employees and legal agents may need to have access to educational records in order to perform their official, educationally-related duties; • To organizations conducting studies to improve instruction, or to accrediting organizations; • To parents of dependent students (IRS definition); Check to see how your institution expects parents to show IRS dependent status; • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; • In response to a health/safety emergency; and • To an individual/entity requesting only directory information
Some Specific Issues for Faculty and Instructional StaffPOSTING GRADES: • Since grades can never be directory information, it is generally inappropriate to post grades in a public setting. However, it is acceptable for an instructor to post grades in such a manner that only the instructor and the individual student know the posted grade (e.g. with a personal ID; provided that no portion of the personal ID is a SSN or institutional LIN Student ID Number). We recommend that the posted list not be in the same order as the class roster or in alphabetical order.
COURSE WEB SITES: Many courses are supported by class Web sites and/or discussion groups. Since only directory information can be made available to the general public and other class members, we recommended that such Web sites have a sufficient security so that only class members and instructors can access appropriate information.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: I • A person who in providing a letter of recommendation makes statements from that person’s personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student who is the subject of the recommendation.
Letters of Recommendation: II • However, if the recommendation includes personally identifiable information obtained from a students educational records (grades, GPA, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student that, (1) specifies the records to be disclosed, (2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.
If the recommendation is kept on file by the person writing it, then it becomes part of the students’ educational record and the student has the right to read it (through the inspection process) unless he or she has waived that right of access. If the letter is used for any purpose other than this recommendation, or shared with a colleague the waiver is void.
Sample request for reference • I give permission for Prof. Joseph Lehigh to write a letter of recommendation to: • MTV Studio’s • 1 Park Avenue • New York, NY 10001 • Prof. Lehigh has my permission to include my grades, GPA, and class rank in this letter. • I waive/do not waive my right to review a copy of this letter at any time in the future. • ______________________________________________________ • Signature Date
This prior slide is an example of a form that school officials (including faculty) can use with students who wish for the school official to write a letter of recommendation that includes non-directory information maintained by the institution by the institution (such as grades, GPA, class rank). If any non-directory information is included in a letter of recommendation, the student’s written permission is required. This letter was suggested in 1998 because a student filed a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office alleging that a faculty member had included a grade and GPA in a letter of recommendation without obtaining the student’s permission to do so. The Family Policy Compliance Office determined that the faculty member has violated FERPA.
PARENT ACCESS: At the post secondary level, parents have no inherent right to inspect their son’s or daughter’s education records. The right to inspect is limited solely to the student. If a faculty member receives a request from a parent for access to non directory and FERPA protected records, that request should be referred to the Associate Dean of Students for Academic Support at ext. 84159 or to the Registrar’s Office at ext. 83191.
What to do cases??? • Can you release a list of students enrolled in a given class ? • You should not provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your class(es) to individuals that do not have a legitimate educational interest. Refer any requests for information to the Office of Student Records and Registration.
A medical school admissions office wants to confirm that an LU alum earned a 3.95 GPA in your department and graduated with Highest Honors. Can you confirm both facts? • Honors conferred is designated as directory information and may be released to a third party. Grade point average could not be released without the student’s written consent.
If a former student has applied for a position in my department, may I view his or her account? • No. Accessing a Lehigh University student’s record on-line for non-educational purposes, such as potential employment, is not permissible. Request a transcript from the student as part of an employment process.
Definite Don’t do’s !!!! • A student calls on the phone and asks for his/her own GPA or major GPA. Do you tell them? • By the title of the section you can tell. NO. Even if they give you their name, DOB, LIN, SSN (you actually can’t ask that one). You can never be sure who is on the other end of the line.
Definite Don’t do’s !!!! [] • A student emails you from his/her PIN protected LU e-mail account and asks for GPA or major GPA, can you send it back? • Just like the prior screen, NO. One difference to remember that if they have e-mail access they can look up their own gpa. Unless they don’ t know their PIN and/or forgotten PIN questions.
Definite Don’t do’s !!!! [] • A student comes to your office and asks to see his/her folder? Then asks for copies of transcripts you have used for advising purposes, can you give them copies? • No. Students have the right to view, not the right to a copy. Third party transcripts are a troubled part of the regulations. Refer the student to the Registrar’s Office.
Don’t Ever Do !!!!!!!! • Give your LOGIN ID and Password to anyone else. • Have them go through the required training and request access. • A violation of this is a violation of federal and University regulations and will be taken seriously.
EMAIL RECORDS: Although there still remains some “gray” areas in electronic records policies there are some fundamentals that will protect advisers and Lehigh. • Registration records must be retained for one full year after the end of a term. Any email communications pertaining to registration and drop/add advice should be kept for that time. • Degree program Changes and Authorizations must be kept for five years after the last date of attendance or graduation. If these approvals are communicated via e-mail (rather than hardcopy forms) and relate to degree program changes, course substitution approvals, performance evaluations or other degree issues, they must be kept for the 5 year time period.
Adviser Notes and Comments system The University provides a method for permanently storing adviser and faculty comments and advising notes. That system complies with FPCO standards and does not require any faculty action to protect, retain, or provide FERPA access to a student. It is called the Adviser Notes and Comment System and is available through the University Portal and Self Service for Faculty. Instructions for use of the system are available on the Registrar’s web site, or contacting the Registrar’s Office
Did you know? • You can get MS ACCESS handy-dandy reports to: • Print a nice copy of a students schedule • Print the schedule of each student in a class with 8 or 9 per page • E-mail, labels, or spreadsheet any class roster or list of majors • Access any class roster to e-mail, create grade excel file, • Write Emil or Tracy and they are yours.
Registrar Web Page • Under Faculty menu • Select for FERPA for Faculty and Advisers • And/Or • Faculty Adviser Notes System • Questions and Answers????