Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

Introduction

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 requires that the University annually provide certain information to its students. In general, this information deals with the types of records kept about students, their location, the person who controls them, policies governing access to them, and the mechanism that exists for their correction should that be necessary. The following information is issued in compliance with that requirement. Should you have any questions not answered below, or should you wish a copy of the Act itself, please contact the Registrar's Office.

General Policy on Release of Information

The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their educational records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panel unacceptable.

The Registrar has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, financial, cooperative education, and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar's Office (sample forms are provided) listing the record or records of interest. Records covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request, usually in the office maintaining the records requested.

Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions, e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial "hold" exists. These copies would be made at the student's expense at prevailing rates.

Directory information may be published or released unless a student informs the Registrar's Office in writing, before the first day of classes each semester, that any or all items should not be released without prior consent of the student. The request to withhold directory information is valid to the end of August in the current academic year. Directory information is defined to include the student's name, address, e-mail address, on-campus or off-campus telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees, awards, and the most recent educational institution attended by the student. In addition, participation in officially recognized activities and sports and weight and height of members of athletic teams will be considered as directory information.

With the few exceptions noted below, all students have the right to inspect all records which directly concern them. The exceptions are:

  1. Financial information submitted by parents.
  2. Any confidential letters of recommendation placed in a student's file prior to January 1, 1975. Any letters of recommendation placed in a student's file after that date must be open to the students, unless the student has waived right of access in writing.
  3. Records of persons not currently in attendance which are used solely for employment purposes. The fact that an employee may once have been a student does not mean that his/her records must be treated differently than those of the employee who has never been a student.
  4. Records kept by Health Services or Counseling which are used solely for the professional treatment of the student.
  5. Law enforcement records (University Police) maintained solely for law enforcement purposes.
  6. Records of instructional, administrative and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute.

Again, with a few exceptions, no information about a student will be released to anyone without the written consent of the student. The exceptions who do have access without specific written consent, are:

  1. Officials of the University who can demonstrate that they have a legitimate educational interest and need for access to a given student's records. "Legitimate educational interest" includes such things as academic advising, consideration for academic or financial awards/scholarships, committee review of academic deficiencies, etc.
  2. State and federal officials and agencies to whom information is required to be reported by law.
  3. Law enforcement officers equipped with a judicial order or subpoena. In such case, the University will make an effort to notify the student that the University has been served with a judicial order or subpoena and which records will be or have been released.
  4. Parents who sign a statement which affirms the student is being claimed as a dependent on federal income tax forms may receive any record otherwise available to the student.
  5. Officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll; the University must make a reasonable attempt to inform the student of such a disclosure.

Each record keeper shall maintain a log with a student's records that will list each request for information about the student except requests by a parent, by school officials, or requests authorized in writing by the student.

Procedure for Challenging Records

The Privacy Act does not deal with challenges to grades, but such provision already exists through the Grievance Procedure. Other records may be challenged should a student feel that their correction or removal is necessary. The student should initially discuss such a request with the individual in charge of the record he/she wishes changed. If the decisions are in agreement with the student's requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If no satisfactory agreement can be reached at that level, the All-University Judiciary shall act as the final institutional appeal board. The student should address his/her request for a hearing in writing to the Registrar's Office (a sample form is provided). The record challenged will be corrected or amended if the hearing decision favors the student. If the decision does not favor the student, he/she may still submit to the file a statement commenting on the information in the record or statements and setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panel. Such statements shall be maintained as a permanent part of the record.

 

 

Approved 9/25/85 EC (PS)