FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
On June 17, 1976, the then Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued the initial final regulations in the Federal Register for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1975 (P.L. 93-380 s 513) as amended (P.L. 93-568 s 2). An additional document relating to the Act, popularly known as the “Buckley Amendment,” appeared in the June 17, 1976, issue of the Federal Register.
Essence of the Act
Students, upon reaching age 18 or attending post-secondary institutions, must be permitted to inspect and review their own educational records, to the exclusion of their parents. There are no rights guaranteed under the Act for parents of students attending a post-secondary institution.
Institutions may not disclose information about students nor permit inspection of their records without the students’ permission unless action is covered by certain expectations as stipulated in the Act.
Student Review of Education Records
Education records covered by the Act and the official immediately responsible for maintaining them are listed below:
- The Office of the Registrar, Registrar
- Deans Offices for each school, School Deans
- Academic and Career Services, Director
Student Affairs Records
- Dean of Students Office, Dean
- Academic and Career Services, /director
- Business Office, Comptroller
- Student Financial Services, Director
Records specifically excluded and not available for review:
- Records of the University Police Department.
- Student health records (may be reviewed by the student’s physician).
- Financial information submitted by the student’s parents.
- Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment, or job placement.
- Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to the part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student.
- Record of instructional, administrative, and education personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and not accessible to anyone else with the exception of a temporary substitute.
- Employment records.
- Alumni records.
Any student who desires to review his or her education records may do so upon request to the appropriate office which is responsible for the record and submission of the “Student Request to Review Education Records” form. The student will be notified by the responsible office when the record will be available for review, within at least forty-five days of the request. Students must present photo identification prior to receiving the information. Original records will not leave the office responsible for them. During any inspection, copies of the records will, upon request, be made available for a reasonable fee. Copies of academic records will be denied if a financial hold exists or if a transcript of an original or source document exists elsewhere.
Disclosure of Education Records
1. Institutions must disclose education records without the written consent of students to:
- Comptroller General of the United States
- The Secretary of Education
- State educational authorities
- State and local officials to whom disclosure is required by State Statute adopted prior to Nov. 19, 1974
- Veteran’s Administration Additional exceptions include:
- Personnel within the institution having a legitimate educational need to know
- Officials of other institutions in which the student seeks to enroll
- Persons or organizations providing the student’s financial aid
- Persons in compliance with a judicial order
- Persons in an emergency situation--in order to protect the health or safety of students or others
- Additionally, St. Edward's University may release student records and information to faculty and staff members, other professionals and outside contractors retained by the university to provide services to the institution or to perform functions on its behalf.
2. Institutions may release, without written consent, those items identified as Directory Information. St. Edward’s University designates the following information as “Directory Information” for students who are currently or previously enrolled, provided the following conditions are met prior to disclosure:
- That the institution inform the students of categories designated as Directory Information
- That students be given the opportunity to refuse disclosure
- That students be given a reasonable period of time in which to state refusals in writing back
- Permanent and local address
- Email address
- Telephone numbers
- Place of birth
- Major/minor or certificate
- Photos/Images (excluding Student Identification photos)
- Anticipated degree or certificate and completion date
- Degree, certificate, and date completed
- Dates of attendance
- Current or preceding semester registered hours
- Previously-attended educational institutions
- Officially-recognized sport participation including height and weight of team members
- Awards and honors
To withhold the release of the above information, a student must submit a “Request to Withhold Directory Information” form to the Office of the Registrar. This request, once submitted, is permanent and will remain in force until rescinded in writing by the student. Should a student graduate with a directory-information hold in force, it will remain in force until rescinded. Students who are no longer enrolled at St. Edward’s are not eligible to request that their directory information be withheld. Any appeal of this policy should be submitted to the Registrar.
Challenge to Accuracy of Record Keeping (Amended 1996)
Students who believe their education records contain inaccurate information or violate their rights, have the opportunity to challenge the content of those records. Students may initiate a challenge by completing the “Student Request to Review Educational Record” form and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar. The Registrar will review the request to amend the record. If an amendment to the record is not approved, the student will be notified within 10 working days. The student may request a formal hearing by submitting a written request to the Chief Academic Officer. The student will be notified of the time, place, and date of the hearing within 10 working days of receipt of the request.
A hearing panel, appointed by an appropriate official having no direct interest in the outcome, will adjudicate the challenge. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues and may be assisted by one or more persons of their choice, including an attorney, at the student’s expense.
Decisions of the hearing panel will be based solely on evidence presented. All parties with a legitimate educational interest will receive a written summary of the evidence and reasons for the decision. Should the decision not favor the student, the student may place in his/her record a statement setting forth his/her reason for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel. This statement will be maintained as a permanent part of the record and will be included in any disclosure of the record.