Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). An Overview for University Faculty and Staff. What is FERPA?. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) Or Buckley Amendment A federal regulation designed to… Protect the privacy of educational records
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Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) An Overview for University Faculty and Staff
What is FERPA? Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) Or Buckley Amendment A federal regulation designed to… • Protect the privacy of educational records • Establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records • Provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings DEFINITIONS OF TERMS FOR ADMISSIONS AND RECORDS. Washington, D.C.: AACRAO, 1980, p. 28.
Who must comply with FERPA? • Generally, any education institution receiving funds under any program administered by the Department of Education. • Consequences of non-compliance: loss of ALL funding from the Department of Education!
What are student rights under FERPA? • Right to inspect and review education records • Right to seek to amend education records • Right to have some control over the disclosure of information from education records
What are educational records? • Records directly related to a student containing personally identifiable information • Maintained by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution Educational records are not… sole possession records, law enforcement records, employment records, medical records, alumni records.
Sole Possession Records • Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (i.e. a Teaching Assistant). • Sole possession records become educational records when they are placed in an area where they can be viewed by others.
What does FERPA require for compliance? We must… • Notify students annually of their rights • Provide students’ access to their education records • Prevent improper disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records • Maintain adequate records of requests and disclosures • Provide opportunity for challenge of the contents of education records
Student Access Students have the right to: • Inspect and review their records within 45 days of the request to inspect • An explanation and interpretation of their record Students cannot view: • Confidential letters and recommendations to which the student has waived, in writing, their right of inspection • Education records containing information about more than one student, however the institution must permit access to that part of the record which pertains only to the inquiring student
Student Access • Departmental records are included under FERPA and students must be allowed access to them if requested. • If a student requests access to any record not solely maintained within department files they need to be referred to the Office of Admissions and Records.
Protecting Student Information • There are two classes of education records. • Directory information (public)—information not normally considered a violation of a person’s privacy • Non-directory information (private)—race, gender, social security number, R-number, grades, GPA, country of citizenship, religion
Disclosing Directory Information • We may release, without written consent, directory information under certain conditions. • In general, we recommend that you do not release directory information to ANY third party, but refer any requests for directory information to Admissions and Records.
Disclosing Non-Directory Information • We must release student information, without written consent to a student requesting information from their own records. • A student’s written permission is required to release non-directory information unless the release is justified under one of the exceptions.
The Exceptions We may release information without written consent to: • School officials determined by the institution to have a legitimate education interest • Persons in an emergency, if the knowledge of information, in fact, is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons • Accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions
Storage and Disposal of Records • Store student files in a secure location, preferably in a locked filing cabinet in a secure room. • Don’t dispose of degree audits, transcripts, grade, unclaimed papers or exams, etc. in a trash can. Any document with personally identifiable information on it needs to be destroyed by shredding it.
Special Cases A series of FERPA situations you may encounter
Letters of Recommendation • Scenario #1: The College of Liberal Arts receives a request from Dr. Casper for a copy of a student’s record in order to help him write a letter of recommendation for the student. Since only the Office of Admissions and Records and the College of Liberal Arts can access the student’s record, Dr. Casper is requesting this assistance. Can he receive a copy of the record?
Posting Student Grades • Scenario #2: You want to notify your student’s of their mid-semester grades by either posting them outside your door or on your class web-page. You are not sure how this might relate to the FERPA. Is it okay to post grades by the last four digits of the students’ SS- or R-number?
Handing back graded work • Scenario #3: You receive a phone call from the Geology secretary who needs to know what to tell instructors who want to leave graded exams outside their offices for students to pick up. What do you tell her?
E-mail • Scenario #4: A faculty member from the Education Specialties Department sends out his grades every semester via e-mail. Is he in violation of the FERPA?
Parents • Scenario #5: A father calls you about his son, He wants to know how he is doing. He is worried because he has not heard from him in several months. As his son’s advisor you have access to his records. What do you tell him?
Requests for Information • Scenario #6: A local reporter calls asking you for information about one of your advisee’s. She has interviewed your advisee for a story and wants to confirm some of the facts with you. This student has already told the reporter his GPA and grades. This student also has submitted a request for non-disclosure of his records. What can you tell the reporter?
Legitimate Educational Interest • Scenario #7: Joe is a student in the Physics Department. His father is a faculty member in the medical school. He wants to find out how Joe is doing in school, so he calls the Office of Admissions and Records to find out. How should the Office respond?
Research Requests • Scenario #8: A graduate student is working with a faculty member in the College of Education . The research project is to explore the enrollment patterns of our students and the relationship of these patterns to successful outcomes achievement. This person is requesting transcripts—hundreds of them—and he is willing to pay for them. Can we comply?