Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) places certain limitations on the disclosure of personally identifiable student information maintained by SBU with respect to students; limits access to academic records; and gives students certain rights with respect to educational records, including the right to access, the right to obtain copies, the right to seek correction of such records through informal and formal internal procedures, and the right to place a statement in such educational records explaining any information that they believe to be inaccurate or misleading.
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What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act provides the right for students to inspect and review their educational records, to seek to amend those records and to limit disclosure or information from those records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding.
Who is Protected under FERPA?
Currently enrolled or formerly enrolled students, regardless of their age or parental dependency status. FERPA does not apply to deceased students or persons who have applied but have not attended
What are Educational Records?
With certain exceptions, an educational record is any record from which a student can be personally identified and is maintained by the University or an authorized party.
Educational records include any records in the possession of an employee that are shared with or accessible to another individual. The records may be handwritten, print, film, electronic, or some other medium. A student has the right to access these records.
FERPA does not require that certain records be kept but addresses the rights of the student and controls disclosure of student education records. State regulations, accreditation guidelines and/or institutional policy determine the specific archiving needs that SBU has for each type of education record.
What is Not Included in an Educational Record?
- Sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel. Notes you make on a student, and which you share with no one else, remain private and are not part of the student’s educational record.
- Law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes.
- Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless the employment is contingent upon school attendance).
- Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment. However, if ever reviewed for purposes other than medical treatment the disclosures of student treatment records are then subject to FERPA statue, not HIPPAA.
- Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records).
Who May Have Access to Student Information?
- The student and any outside party who has the student’s written consent.
- A school official with a “legitimate educational interest”.
- Legally interested parties in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order.
Who is a School Official?
- A person employed by South Baylo University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position.
- A person elected to the Board of Trustees
- A person employed by or under contract to SBU to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor.
What is “Legitimate Educational Interest?
A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:
- Performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement.
- Performing a task related to a student’s education (e.g. their instructor, advisor).
- Performing a task related to the discipline of a student.
- Providing a service or benefit relating to the student, such as advising, job placement or financial aid
When is the Student’s Consent Not Required to Disclose Information?
- Officials of another school in which the student seeks to enroll.
- Anyone providing financial aid to the student, e.g. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency, to protect the health and safety of others.
- Results of disciplinary hearings to an alleged victim of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense.
- Agents acting on behalf of South Baylo University (clearinghouses, degree/enrollment verifiers).
- Immigration and Naturalization Service for purposes of the Student Exchange Visitor Information System.
- Internal Revenue Service in compliance with the Taxpayer Relief Act.
- Certain federal, state, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state or federally supported educational programs, or accrediting organizations.
Students and Grades
Students cannot use FERPA to claim they have a right to be anonymous inside the classroom. For example, you may pass around an attendance sheet and request that students write their names on a list that will be viewed by all students. A student cannot legitimately claim a privacy right and refuse to comply.
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, social security number (partial or whole), or SBU ID without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades to a class website where it may be viewed by other students in the class. Notification of grades via a postcard would be another example of violating a student’s privacy rights.
Notification of grades via personal e-mail accounts (Hotmail, yahoo, Gmail) is a violation of FERPA.
Special Tips for Faculty
- Protect a student’s grades from being accessible by others.
- Do not discuss a student’s academic record via email unless done through the student’s SBU issued email address
- Never release academic record information to a spouse or parent without the written permission of the student.
- Never provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any purpose. Such requests must go through the Campus President’s office.
- Never provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than University employees in trying to locate a student on campus.
- Remember – it is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of student records, whether you are faculty, staff, or student.