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Introduction

Educational records are kept by University offices to facilitate the educational development of students. Faculty and staff members may also keep informal records relating to their functional responsibilities with individual students.

A federal law, the Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment) as amended, affords students certain rights concerning their student educational records. Students have the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records. Educational institutions have the responsibility to prevent improper disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records.

 

Student and Parent Rights Relating to Educational Records

Students have a right to know about the purposes, content, and location of information kept as part of their educational records.

They have a right to gain access to and challenge the content of their educational records. FERPA was not intended to provide a process to be used to question substantive judgments that are correctly recorded.   For example, a student may not use this right to contest a grade in a course because they felt a higher grade should have been assigned.

Students also have a right to expect confidentiality of certain information about them in student records and, under certain conditions, to gain access to information in student educational records. For purposes of FERPA, the University considers all students independent, limiting the student educational record information that may be released to parents or directory information unless the student provides specific written permission.

 

Educational Records

Student educational records are specifically defined as records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and maintained by the University or someone acting for the University according to policy.

Excluded from student educational records are records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel in the sole possession of the maker and that are not accessible or revealed to any other person, except for a substitute. Additionally, notes of a professor or staff member intended for his or her own use are not part of the educational record, nor are records of police services, application of records of students not admitted to the University, alumni records, or records of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or other recognized professionals.

Records relating to an individual who is employed by the University not as a result of his or her status as a student are also excluded.  However, employment records relating to University students who are employed as a result of their status as students are considered educational records.

 

Directory Information 

Some information about students is considered “directory information”. Directory information may be publicly shared by the institution unless the student has taken formal action to restrict its release.

Directory information includes:

    • Student’s name
    • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
    • Address (home, local, e-mail)
    • Telephone listings
    • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
    • Photograph/Video for University and other publications
    • Degrees, honors, and awards received
    • Date of birth
    • Major field of study
    • Dates of attendance
    • Current Enrollment Status
    • The most recent educational agency or institution attended
    • Class Standing

A student must formally request the University Registrar to prevent disclosure of directory information, except to school officials with legitimate educational interests and certain others as specified in the regulations. Once filed, this request becomes a permanent part of the student’s record until the student instructs the University, in writing, to have the request removed.

 

Guidelines for Faculty

1. DO refer requests for information from the educational record of a student to the Office of the Registrar.

2. DO keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching and advising responsibilities. Private notes of a faculty member concerning a student and intended for the faculty member’s own use are not part of the student’s educational records, provided they are not accessible to or shared with any other person.

3. DO keep any personal professional records relating to individual students separate from their educational records. Private records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel are to be kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not to be accessible or revealed to any other person, except a substitute.

4. DO change factual information regarding grades and performance in an education record when the student is able to provide valid documentation that information is inaccurate or misleading. The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student’s work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of students’ FERPA right to challenge their educational records.

5. DO NOT display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, Social Security Numbers, or other personal identifiers. If scores or grades are posted, use some code known only to you and the individual student. In no case should the list be posted in alphabetic sequence by student name.

6. DO NOT put papers, graded exam books, or lab reports containing student names and grades in publicly accessible places. Students are not to have access to the scores and grades of others in class in ways that allow other students to be identified.
 
7. DO NOT request information from the educational record custodian without a legitimate educational interest and the appropriate authority to do so.
 
8. DO NOT share student educational record information, including grades or grade point averages, with other faculty or staff members of the University unless their official responsibilities identify their “legitimate educational interest” in that information for that student.
 
9. DO NOT share information from student educational records, including grades or grade point averages, with parents or others outside the institution, including in letters of recommendation, without written permission from the student.
 
10. WHEN IN DOUBT err on the side of caution and do not release student educational information. Contact the Office of the Registrar for guidance.

Questions about this document or about FERPA may be addressed to the Office of the Registrar, ext. 6774.