FERPA - Not Just Another Pretty Acronym
Look around at your work area. What information do you have that may need to be handled in a secure way? For example:
-student information available on FlashFAST?
With FlashFAST, we now have more access to restricted student information than ever before. The consequences of how we handle or mishandle student educational record information are significant. The way we use student education record information is governed by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
So, what is FERPA?
FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
FERPA is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. For additional information visit http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco.
The Essence of FERPA
- College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records
- School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their records without written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the act.
What is an Education Record?
An Education Record is:
- Those records, files, documents and other materials which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by a college, school, department, office or other university organization, subdivision or by a person acting for the university or any of its subdivisions.
- These records include files, documents, and materials in whatever medium (handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche or any form of electronic data storage) which contain information directly related to students and from which students can be personally (individually) identified.
- The official academic record composed of documents and computer files maintained by the office of the university registrar. The registrar is the official custodian of these records and the registrar, or designee, is the only one authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
- Academic advising records are the materials maintained in the college and academic departmental office for use only in advising and/or preparing the recommendations for state certification. These are not to be confused with the aforementioned official academic record.
- Discipline records including preliminary notification, proceedings, results and action taken as a result of disciplinary committee hearings, are maintained in the office of the dean for student affairs. The provost or designee is the official custodian of these records and the vice president and dean for enrollment management and student affairs, or designee, is the only one who is authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
- Student financial aid records including application, parents' confidential statement, need analysis form, promissory note, employment and other related information are maintained in the office of student financial aid. The director of student financial aid is the official custodian of these records and the director, or designee, is the only one who authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
- The career planning and placement center records including applications, resumes, letters of reference, employment records of work study students, and related information are maintained in the office of career planning and placement center. The director of the center is the official custodian of these records and the director, or designee, is the only one who is authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
An Education Record is not:
- Sole possession notes
- Police records which are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes
- Records maintained solely in connection with a person's employment within the university unless the employment records are as a result of their status as a student NOTE: Records of individuals who are employed as a result of their student enrollment status (such as, work study, graduate assistants, etc.) are education records.
- Health-related records. Records which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional capacity, or assisting in that capacity and which are created, maintained or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment, provided, however, that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.
- Alumni records
What is "personally identifiable" information?
Personally Identifiable means data or information which includes:
- The name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members
- A personal identifier such as a social security number or student number
stopsign NOTE: It is illegal to post grades publicly by student ID or Social Security Number without obtaining the student's written permission.
- A list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student's identity easily traceable.
Who are "school officials"?
A "School official" can be a person:
- Employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff);
- Student workers can be considered "school officials" and be granted access to personally identifiable student information if their job responsibilities give them a legitimate educational interest (need to know);
- Elected to the Board of Trustees;
- A company employed by or under contract to the college to perform a special task such as the attorney, auditor, collection agency;
- A student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
What is "legitimate educational interest"?
A legitimate educational interest commonly requires that in order to view a student's record, a "school official" must be performing a duty or service related to a professional responsibility outlined in his or her contract.
A legitimate educational interest is the demonstrated need to know by those officials of an institution who act in the student's educational interest, including faculty; administration; clerical, professional or student employees; and other persons who manage student record information.
Under what conditions is disclosure permitted?
Directory Information is that part of the education record which does not contain personally identifiable information and may be disclosed without the student's permission.
Directory Information includes:
- Local and permanent address
- Email address
- Telephone listing
- Dates of attendance and enrollment status
- Major field of study and degrees received
- Honors and awards
- Class standing
- High school graduated from
- Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
If the student has restricted the disclosure of directory information, the word "Confidential" will display next to the student's name on various pages in FlashFAST, including class rosters and grade rosters.
Guidelinescaution Keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching and advising responsibilities. Private notes (sole possession) intended only for the faculty member's use are not part of the education record.
caution Student scores and grades, if associated with the name or ID, must not be displayed publicly. If lists of grades or scores are to be displayed, use a code known only to the student and you. Always post the list in random order to prevent possible identification.
NOTE: Papers, exam books, etc should not be left in publicly accessible places.
caution Student record information that you receive from FlashFAST is not to be shared with other faculty or staff, unless their official responsibilities identify their legitimate educational interest in that information for that student. Always be mindful that a student may have restricted disclosure of that information.
caution Refer requests for information from the educational record to the Office of the University Registrar.
There are some cases that allow the disclosure of education records without the student's permission such as:
- Lawfully issued subpoenas
- Duly authorized federal and state representatives for the purposes of performing an audit, evaluation or enforcement of federal and state supported programs
- Accreditation purposes
Refer any questions to the Office of the University Registrar.