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WHAT IS FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act)?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to those records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.
WHAT ARE EDUCATION RECORDS?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.
Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:
- sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
- medical treatment records that include, but are not limited to, records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists (these are coved by other laws);
- employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment;
- records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose. These records are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records;
- post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.
STUDENT'S RIGHT TO REVIEW AND CORRECT HIS/HER RECORDS
The right of inspection and review includes: the right to access, with an explanation and interpretation of the record; the right to a copy of the education record when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record. The institution may refuse to provide a copy of a student's education record provided such refusal does not limit access.
Students may request that their education records be amended if they believe such information is inaccurate, misreading, or in violation of privacy rights. Students must request in writing that the office maintaining those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the records they want corrected and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of privacy rights.
That office will review the request and inform the students in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If the records custodian refuses to amend the record, students have the right to a hearing. A hearing officer will be appointed by the cabinet member of the department A hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for the hearing has been received. The hearing officer will notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.
If the hearing officer supports the complaint, the education record will be amended accordingly and the student will be so informed. If the hearing officer/board decides not to amend the education record, students have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreement with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion of the record is maintained.
WHAT IS DIRECTORY OR PUBLIC INFORMATION?
FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent.
Benedictine College considers the following to be Directory Information. This information may be released for each student without their permission:
- Student name
- Address (campus & permanent)
- Telephone number (local and permanent)
- College email address
- Date and place of birth
- Classification (Junior, Senior)
- Enrollment Status (full time, part time)
- Expected date of graduation
- Dates of Attendance at Benedictine College
- Major(s), minor(s)
- Degrees sought and/or earned
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports (including height and weight, as appropriate)
- Awards and honors
Release of Records and personal information without Consent
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which a student’s education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without a student’s consent.
First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to a student’s records and PII without the student’s consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.
Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to a student’s education records and PII without consent of the student to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when Benedictine College objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive a student’s PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.
In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without student’s consent PII from student education records, and they may track student participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about the student that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
RESTRICTING RELEASE OF DIRECTORY INFORMATION
According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled.
If you have any questions about your rights or to request clarification or further information, please contact:
Sister Linda Herndon, OSB, Ph.D.,
Associate Dean & Registrar
Room 216, St. Benedict Hall
1020 N. 2nd St.
Atchison, KS 66002
WHO CAN RELEASE STUDENT INFORMATION?
An institution may disclose personally identifiable information without the student's written consent to "school officials" whom the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest."
OBLIGATION TO RELEASE RECORD INFORMATION
An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only says that an institution MAY release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information.
Students have the right to inspect the contents of their student folder, regardless of their financial status with the institution. However, an institution is NOT REQUIRED to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.
At BC, all subpoenas are first reviewed by our legal counsel to determine the appropriate course of action.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors to be considered or questions to be asked in making a decision to release such information in these situations are: (1) the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; (2) the need for the information; (3) the time required to deal with the emergency; (4) the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.