FERPA: What does it mean for me? (PDF)

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FERPA—WHAT DOES IT
MEAN FOR ME?
Ryan D. Kane, Director,
Student Conduct & Civility Education
Learning Objectives for this session

By the end of this session, participants will be able
to:
 Accurately
describe what an educational record is and
is not.
 List examples of directory information and how this
information can be shared with third parties.
 Successfully illustrate real-world examples of how
FERPA applies to them.
What does FERPA stand for?
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A: Family Education Rights for Parents Act
B: Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act
C: Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
C: Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (1974).
This is a law that protects the privacy of student
education records. The law applies to all schools
receiving funds from the US Dept. of Education.
Why is this law in existence?


Students at institutions of higher education have
rights to know what is in their record.
Students have a right to confidentiality in so much
as their records cannot be shared with third parties
without their consent (there are notable exceptions
which we will discuss).
What rights does FERPA afford to
students?
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
Inspect & review student educational records
maintained by the institution.
Request that a school correct a record that the
student suggests is inaccurate.
 If
the institution does not alter the record, the student
has a right for a review hearing.
 If the review hearing does not alter the record, the
student has a right to place a statement in his/her
record indicating his/her perspective about the record.

Right to privacy about disclosure of records
Educational records are:
Directly related to a student
Maintained by an educational agency or
institution or by a third party acting on behalf of
the institution
Defining Educational Records
Educational records include
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Written documents, digital
files, databases, etc.
Student grades/transcripts
Student disciplinary records
Student involvement
transcripts
Academic advising folders
Directory Information
Employment records if
position is contingent on being
a student
Educational records do not include

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Personal notes kept by
faculty, or staff
Police records
Health Center records
Counseling Center records
Information obtained when
student is no longer a
student i.e. alumni records
Personal observations
Directory Information @ TU
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Student Name
Address
Telephone number(s)
Date & country of birth
Country of citizenship
Major field of study
Dates of attendance
Degrees & awards received
Most recent previous educational institution attended
Class standing
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Weight & height of members of athletic teams
Directory information can be released to a 3rd party
Students can request non-disclosure on a one time basis to the Registrar’s Office
Student inspection & review of records

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Students have the right to inspect & review their own
records. This can be done at the department level
or at the university level
The Registrar’s Office is the office designated to
coordinate the inspection & review of a student’s
educational records.
However, your office can disclose
APPROPRIATE records to a student upon
request.
Disclosure of records to 3rd parties
Keep in mind—FERPA ALLOWS for release of
records to 3rd parties under certain conditions. It
does not REQUIRE you to release records.
What are parental rights?
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For elementary & secondary education, FERPA gives
certain rights to parents regarding their children’s
educational records.
These rights transfer to the student upon reaching
18 years of age OR attending any school beyond
the secondary level.
 This
means that even a 17 year old student at TU is the
“owner” of his/her records and the record cannot be
disclosed without student consent.
When may a parent access records?

The law allows universities to grant parental access if
a student is claimed as a dependent for Federal
Income Tax purposes.
 The
Registrar’s Office will determine this status for the
university.

Access is granted to both the
parent who claims the student
as well as the parent who is
not claiming the student.
Who can access the record without
student consent?
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School employees with a
“legitimate educational
interest.”
Parents who claim their
student as a dependent.
Individuals who have
obtained a judicial
order or subpoena.
Parents/guardians of
under 21 y/o students
who have violated the
alcohol or drug policy.

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Appropriate parties
who need to know in
cases of health & safety
emergencies to protect
the health& safety of
the student and/or
others.
Victim of a crime of
violence: the results of a
disciplinary proceeding
w/ respect to the crime.
What constitutes student consent?
Student consent should ALWAYS be written and include a student
signature.
If a student is present w/ a 3rd party i.e. parent, and gives you
verbal permission to share information, this can be done. But, this
consent does not extend beyond that specific encounter.
Consent should be specific as to who can disclose the information, to
whom it can be disclosed, and what information can be disclosed.
Students should be reminded that this is voluntary & the student can
change his/her mind at any time.
You should ALWAYS keep a record of the disclosure as part of the
student record.
2 Basic Steps to comply with FERPA

1. Notify current students annual in writing of their
rights under FERPA.
2 Basic Steps to comply with FERPA

2. Grant access by students, if applicable, to
educational records.
 Students
& former students have the right to inspect
their educational records through established
procedures within a maximum of 45 days after written
request is received. Also have a right to inspect
requests for disclosure.
 Institution is not required to provide a copy unless
failure to do so would deny access.
 Records cannot be destroyed if request is pending
 Fee can be charged unless cost prohibits access
A few parting comments
When in doubt, protect the confidentiality of a
student & then ask for clarification.
The Registrar’s Office will determine dependency
status.
Remember, FERPA permits but does not require
disclosure to 3rd parties.
FERPA does not prevent us from talking with a 3rd
party about processes & procedures in general or
from talking at all to parents.
Some real life examples…
Important Resources/References
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Office of the Registrar (410) 704-2096
University Counsel (410) 704-4008
Student Conduct & Civility Education
(410) 704-2057
Department of Education
 [email protected]
 http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html

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