Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Among its several purposes, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) was enacted to protect the privacy of students' education records, to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide students with an opportunity to have inaccurate or misleading information in their education records corrected. FERPA also permits the disclosure by an institution without a student's prior consent of so-called directory information about that student. Students have the right to file complaints with the Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office concerning alleged failures by an institution to comply with FERPA. In accordance with the statute and the FERPA regulations issued by the Department of Education, Beulah Heights University (BHU) has adopted the following policies and procedures.
"Student" includes any person with respect to whom the University maintains an education record, whether or not that person is currently in attendance. Persons who have not been in attendance are not "students" entitled to review their records. Thus, persons who have applied to and been admitted by the University, but who have not yet begun to attend classes, are not eligible to review their records.
"Education records" available for review are defined as those records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and that are maintained by the University. The form in which the information is maintained by the University does not matter; for example, computerized or electronic files, audio or video tape, photographic images, film, etc., with such information are "education records". This includes communications and documents distributed or received by e-mail.
In general, records maintained by the University that are available for student review are: admissions documents, financial aid documents (if student has applied for aid), and advisement and counseling documents from the various schools. Not all of these categories of records are maintained for any given student, and there may be others.
Under FERPA and its related regulations the following types of University records are not "education records" and are, therefore, not available for student review:
- Personal notes or records (including computerized files) that are kept by an individual University employee solely in her or his possession, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to others, except to a temporary substitute.
- Records that relate to an individual who is employed by the University and that (a) are made and maintained in the normal course of business, (b) are not available for use for any other purpose, and (c) relate exclusively to the individual in that individual's capacity as an employee. This exception does not apply to records that relate to a student in attendance at the University who is employed as a result of his or her status as a student.
- Medical and psychiatric records created, maintained, and used only in connection with the treatment of a student and that are not available to anyone other than the persons providing such treatment. Such records can be personally reviewed by a physician, psychologist, or other appropriate health professional of the student's choice.
- Records that contain information relating to a person only after that person is no longer a student at the University, i.e., alumni records. Also, the University does not have to permit a student to review education records that are:
- Financial records of the parents of a student.
- Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the education records of a student (a) prior to January 1, 1975, as long as they are used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended; and (b) after January 1, 1975, if the student has waived access to such letters and recommendations and if such letters and recommendations relate to the student's admission to an educational institution (including admission to BHU), application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.
Access to Records
At BHU, FERPA is administered by the Registrar. Except as noted below, requests to review records or for additional information concerning FERPA, should be directed to the Registrar.
A student may waive his or her right to access to confidential recommendations for any of the following: admission to an educational institution; employment; receipt of an honor or honorary recognition. Waiver forms are available from the Office of the Registrar. The waiver must be in writing and must be signed by the student. If a student waives her or his right to access, the recommendations must be used solely for the purposes for which they were intended, and, if the student so requests, the University will give her or him the names of the individuals who made the recommendations. Recommendations mailed to third parties should include a copy of the signed waiver, so that the third party is aware that the student has waived access to the recommendation, and, hence, cannot obtain access to it from the third party's records in the future. The University does not have the right to make the student's waiver a condition to the student's receipt of any service or benefit from the University. Waivers may be revoked by the student, but the revocation will not enable the student to gain access to confidential recommendations made while the waiver was in effect.
Amendment of Records
If a student believes that any of the education records relating to her or him contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of her or his rights of privacy, she or he may ask the University to correct or delete such information. The student may also ask that additional explanatory material be inserted in the record.
If the University declines to amend a student's record as he or she requests, the student has the right to a hearing. The hearing will be held within a reasonable time after the University receives the student's request for it. The hearing may be conducted by any person, including an official of the University, who does not have a direct interest in its outcome. At the hearing, the student may be assisted or represented by one or more individuals, including legal counsel, of the student's choice at the student's expense. Within a reasonable time following the hearing, the hearing officer will make her or his recommendation(s) in writing to the President (or his designee). This recommendation, and the written decision of the President or his designee on behalf of the University, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing and will include a summary of that evidence and the reasons for the conclusions reached. If the decision of the President or his designee is to amend the record, the record will be amended and the student will be given written notice of the amendment. If the decision of the President or his designee is not to amend the record, the student will be informed that he or she has the right to place a written statement in his or her record, which will be kept in the file as long as the file itself is kept. The statement may comment on the contested portion of the file or say why the student disagrees with the decision of the President or his designee, or do both. If the contested portion of the file is disclosed to anybody, the student's statement will also be disclosed.
Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information
Prior to disclosing personally identifiable information from a student's education records, the University will obtain the student's signed and dated written consent to such disclosure, unless consent is not required by law. The student’s written consent must “specify the records that may be disclosed; state the purpose of the disclosure; and identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made.”
Such consent is not needed for disclosure of directory information or for disclosure:
- to the student;
- to school officials with legitimate educational interests; school officials having a legitimate educational interest include any University employee acting within the scope of her or his University employment, and any duly appointed agent or representative of the University acting within the scope of his or her appointment.
- to accrediting, testing, and similar organizations;
- to certain federal, state, and local officials and authorities, in each case as specified in Subpart D of the FERPA Regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 99;
- in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or received, under the conditions set forth in the FERPA Regulations.
- to comply with a subpoena or judicial order, provided that the University attempts to notify the student of the order or subpoena before complying with it (unless, in the case of a Federal grand jury subpoena or other subpoena issued for a law enforcement purpose, the subpoena orders that such notification not be made), or to provide information to the Attorney General of the United States or to his designee, without notification to the student, in response to a court order issued in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes as specified in Title 18, U.S. Code, sections 2331 and 2332 (g) (5) (B). Permission is not needed for disclosure to a court when the University has initiated legal action against a parent or student or when necessary for the University to defend itself when a parent or student has initiated action against it.
- to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency when the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. The interpretation of a health or safety emergency is to be strictly construed.
- when forwarding education records to the officials of another institution (a) in which a student seeks or intends to enroll if that institution requests such records, or (b) if the student is enrolled in, or receiving services from, that institution while she or he is attending BHU. The student's consent is not required for such disclosure, nor is any other notice of the transfer required, although a copy of each record so disclosed will be provided to the student if the student asks for it.
- of the final results of any University disciplinary proceeding relating to a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense allegedly perpetrated by a University student to an alleged victim of that crime or offense, regardless of whether or not it is concluded that a violation was committed. The consent of the alleged student perpetrator is not a condition to this disclosure.
- of the final results of any University disciplinary proceeding reached on or after October 7, 1998 if it is determined that a student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the University's rules or policies with respect to the allegation. The names of other students, including the victim or witnesses, may not be disclosed without their prior written consent.
- to the parent of a student regarding the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or any rule or policy of the University, regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, provided that the University has determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure.
- of information concerning registered sex offenders, provided to the University under the Wetterling Act, including information made available under State sex offender registration and community notification programs.
The University will maintain a record of each request for and disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records of a student to persons outside the University for as long as such records are maintained. The record will indicate the parties who have requested or obtained the personally identifiable information and the legitimate interest these parties had in requesting or obtaining the information. The student has the right to inspect and review this record of requests. The requirement to keep records of requests does not apply to: disclosures to the student; disclosures made pursuant to the written consent of the student; disclosures to University employees determined by the University to have legitimate educational interests; disclosures of directory information; or disclosures made in compliance with a Federal grand jury or other law enforcement subpoena which orders that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished not be disclosed to the student.
In instances where disclosure of personally identifiable information from an education record to a third party is permitted (see above), the third party is subject to the requirements of the FERPA Regulations with respect to possible redisclosure of that information and the University must so inform the third party.
When a student gives his or her written consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from his or her records to persons outside the University, the student may request that the University provide him or her with a copy of any records thus disclosed, and the University will do so.
The purpose of the consent form is to permit the student to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information in her or his education records. The fact that a student signs a consent form, whether specific or "blanket," does not, however, bind the University to make the student's records available to the third party or parties who have obtained the student's consent to their review of his or her files. The student's records are still the property of the University and, even if a consent has been signed, the University will exercise its discretion in each case by disclosing to the third party only such information, records, and files, if any, as the University deems appropriate in light of the reason that the third party is seeking access to the student's records. Because of this, all consents obtained directly from students by third parties must include a specification of the records to be disclosed, the purposes of the disclosure, and the person or groups of persons to whom disclosure may be made. The original signed consent must be provided to the University by the third party at the time the request for access is made. The University will retain the original consent. Records to which students are denied access because they are not "education records" usually will not be made available to an outside party. In addition, the third party generally will not be permitted to make copies of records to which he or she is granted access, even if the consent signed by the student explicitly gives permission for such copies to be made. If the student wishes the third party to have copies of documents in her or his file, or if there are other documents to which the third party has not been granted access by the University but which the student wishes the third party to have, the student may copy those records (see Section IV above) and provide such copies to the third party directly.
The University has designated the following student information as "directory information." Such information may be disclosed for any purpose, at the discretion of the University.
Name, dates of attendance, class, previous institution(s) attended, major field of study, full or part-time status, degree(s) conferred (including dates), honors and awards (including president’s or dean's list), past and present participation in officially recognized activities including positions held.
Under federal law, address information, telephone listings, and date and place of birth are also considered directory information for military recruitment purposes. Address refers to “physical mailing address” but not e-mail address.
Currently enrolled students may refuse to permit disclosure of this information
Students should consider very carefully the effect of a decision to withhold directory information. If that decision is made, any requests during that academic year for such information from non-University persons or organizations will be refused unless the student has subsequently removed the hold by notifying the Registrar or appropriate Recording Office in writing. If a student does not specifically request the withholding of directory information by filing the appropriate University form, as indicated above, the University assumes that he or she approves of the disclosure of such information. The University disclaims any and all liability for inadvertent disclosure of directory information designated to be withheld.
Review by Government Agencies
Authorized representatives of government agencies may occasionally ask to see a student's education records. Such requests are usually made when a student or former student has applied for a government job. The government agent should be referred to the appropriate record review officer, as indicated above. Generally, the University will handle such requests in the same manner as other requests for access to student records by third parties, provided that the government agent must also have and give to the University official identification, a copy of which will be retained by the University along with the original consent.
If a government agent has a subpoena, she or he should be referred to the Dean of Academic Affairs. Under the FERPA regulations, the University is required to make a reasonable attempt to notify the student prior to complying with the subpoena unless, in the case of a subpoena issued for law enforcement purposes, the subpoena orders that such notification not be made.
Requests from Parents
Occasionally, a parent will request information from a student's education records or a copy of the student's transcript. Under FERPA, institutions are not required to disclose such information to the student's parent, but may do so if: (a) there is written consent to the disclosure from the student, or (b) the parent requests the information in writing and provides evidence that the student is his or her dependent under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or (c) the student has violated a Federal, State, or local law or any rule or policy of the University regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, provided that the University has determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure.
If the procedure indicated under (b) is followed, the University's practice is to ask the parent to establish dependency by providing a copy of her or his latest federal income tax return. Confidential information on the return may be expunged, provided that the information that remains is sufficient for the University to ascertain that the parent has claimed the student as a dependent. Further, it is also the practice of the University (except in a health or safety emergency) to inform the student of such a request and of the information requested before deciding whether to provide the requested information to the parent. "Parent" is defined by FERPA as "a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian."
The University will inform students of these Guidelines and of their rights under FERPA and the Department of Education's FERPA regulations by placing a notice about them in the Student's Handbook each year, the university catalogue, and the University Web Site.
For additional information please contact the Office of the Registrar
Student Right-to-Know Act
Also known as the "Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act" (P.L. 101-542), which was passed by Congress November 9, 1990. Title I, Section 103, requires institutions eligible for Title IV funding to calculate completion or graduation rates of certificate- or degree-seeking, full-time students entering that institution, and to disclose these rates to all students and prospective students. Further, Section 104 requires each institution that participates in any Title IV program and is attended by students receiving athletically-related student aid to submit a report to the Secretary of Education annually. This report is to contain, among other things, graduation/completion rates of all students as well as students receiving athletically-related student aid by race/ethnicity and gender and by sport, and the average completion or graduation rate for the four most recent years. These data are also required to be disclosed to parents, coaches, and potential student athletes when the institution offers athletically-related student aid. The Graduation Rates component of IPEDS was developed specifically to help institutions respond to these requirements. See Graduation Rates for the current description of data collected.