FERPA according to the latest Federal guidelines of the Department of Education guidelines 2012 defines FERPA as a Federal law that that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office and applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funding under any program administered by the Department of education (U. S. Department of Education 2010). These guide lines apply according to the USDE that, “Parochial and public schools at the elementary and secondary levels generally do not receive such funding and are not subject to FERPA.
Private postsecondary schools generally do receive funding and are subject to FERPA”. (FERPA general guidance, 2012). FERPA guidelines state that,” once a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an eligible student, and all rights formally given to the parents under FERPA transfer to the student” ( FERPA general guidance, 2012).
Now the “eligible student” has the right to have access to his or her educational records, the right to have the records amended, the right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the record unless under certain circumstances identified in the FERPA regulations, and the right to file a complaint with the Department of Education. The USSDE defines “educational records” as those records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party for the agency or institution (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
FERPA as a rule according ED. gov, “prohibits the improper disclosure of personal identifiable information from educational records (FERPA general guidance, 2012). This means that according to FERPA that information obtained by an official through personal knowledge or observation, or has heard orally from others, is not protected under FERPA (ed. gov. 2011). Under FERPA, a school is not generally required to maintain particular educational records or educational records that contain specific information.
A school is required to provide certain privacy protections for those for those education records that it does maintain. Unless there is an outstanding request by an eligible student to inspect and review educational records according to FERPA, a school is permitted to destroy such records without notice to the student (ed. gov. 2011). Under FERPA, according to ed. gov, a school must provide an eligible student an opportunity to inspect and review his or her educational records within 45 days following its receipt of a request.
A school is required to provide an eligible student with copies of educational records, or make other arrangements, if a failure to do so would effectively prevent the student from obtaining access to the records. An example according to FERPA would be, “If the student does not live within commuting distance of the school” (ed. gov. 2011). Also under eligible student’s rights, a school is not generally required by FERPA to provide the student with access to academic calendars, course syllabi, or general notices such as announcements of specific events or extra-curricular activities.
FERPA states that this type of information is not generally directly related to an individual student and, does not meet the definition of an educational record (FERPA general guidance, 2012). Ed. gov also states that under FERPA, a school is not required to provide information that is not maintained or to create education records in response to an eligible student’s request. A school is not required to provide an eligible student with updates on his or her progress in a course or in school unless this information already exists in the form of an educational record.
These records include according to FERPA grade reports (ed. gov. 2011). Under the amendment of records according to the USDE and FERPA, they both state that a student has the right to request that inaccurate or misleading information in his or her education records are amended (U. S. Department of Education 2010). The school according to ed. gov in accordance with FERPA regulations is not required to consider the request. If the school decides not to amend a record in accordance with an eligible student’s request, the school must inform the student of his or her right to a hearing on the atter. After the hearing, the school still decides not to amend the record; the eligible student has the right to insert a statement in the record stating his or her views. That statement must remain with the contested part of the record for as long as the record is maintained (FERPA general guidance, 2012). The amendment procedure challenge under FERPA is only used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded. The procedure cannot be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or substantive decision made by a school about an eligible student.
FERPA according to the USDE was intended to require only that schools conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations. FERPA affords the eligible students the right to seek to amend education records which contain inaccurate information; this cannot be used to challenge a grade or an individual’s opinion, or substantive decision made by a school about a student.
The FERPA amendment procedures are not applicable to an eligible student’s request for amendment of education records; the school is not required under FERPA to hold a hearing on the matter (FERPA general guidance, 2012). Under FERPA, a school may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student’s records to a third party unless the eligible student has provided written consent. There are according toed. gov and FERPA a number of exceptions to FERPA’s prohibitions against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
Under these exceptions, schools are permitted to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent even if the school are not required to do so (FERPA general guidance, 2012). One of the exceptions according to the FERPA guideline to the prior written consent requirement allows school officials including teachers, within a school to obtain access to personally identifiable information contained in education records provided the school has determined that they have legitimate educational interest” in the information (FERPA general guidance, 2012). The term “school official” according to FERPA guidelines is not defined in the statute or regulations. FERPA generally interprets the term to include parties such as; professors, instructors; administrators; health staff; counselors; attorneys; clerical staff; trustees; members of committees and disciplinary boards; and a contractor, volunteer or other party to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
A school must inform eligible students of how it defines the terms “school official” and “legitimate educational interest” in its annual notification of FERPA rights. A school generally has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility (FERPA general guidance, 2012). If an eligible student seeks to enroll into another school, there is an exception that permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from that student’s record without consent.
The sending school according to FERPA guidelines may make the disclosure if it has included in its annual notification of rights a statement that it forwards education records in such circumstances. The sending school must make a reasonable attempt to notify the student in advance of making the disclosure unless the student has initiated the disclosure. The school must also provide an eligible student a copy of the records that were released if requested by the student (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally information from education records without consent when the disclosure is in connection with financial aid for the student who has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary for any purpose(s) to: determine the eligibility for the aid; determine the amount of the aid; determine the conditions for the aid; and or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
The term “financial aid” according to FERPA guidelines is defined as, ”payment of funds to an individual or payment in kind of tangible or intangible property that is conditioned on the individual’s attendance at a school” (FERPA general guidance, 2012). Postsecondary institutions may according to ed. gov also disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is to the parents of a “dependent student” as that term is defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code.
If either parent has claimed the student as a dependent on the parent’s most recent year’s tax statement, the school may non-consensually disclose the eligible student’s education records to both parents under this exception (ed. gov. 2011). The postsecondary institution may also according to ed. gov, disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent to, appropriate parties, including parents of an eligible student, in connection with a health or safety emergency.
Under this provision, colleges and universities may notify parents when there is health or safety emergency involving their son or daughter, even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent (ed. gov. 2011). A school may disclose directory information which is defined as, information contained in education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed”. This would be items such as the name of the student, address, e-mail address, telephone listing date and place of birth, field of study, degrees and grade level (ed. gov. 2011).
A school may disclose directory information without consent if it has given public notice of the types of information it is going to release. The eligible student’s has the right to restrict the disclosure of this information and the amount of time they have to notify the school that they do not want any or all of the information designated as directory. FERPA does not require a school to notify eligible students individually of the types of information it has designated directory information. The school may provide this notice by any means likely to inform eligible students of the types of information it considers directory information (ed. ov. 2011). Under the FERPA heading of Law enforcement units and law enforcement unit records, FERPA defines these units as any individual, office, department, division or other component of a school, such as a unit of commissioned police officers or non-commissioned security guards, that is officially authorized or designated by the school to: enforce any local, State, or Federal law, or refer to appropriate authorities a matter for enforcement of any law against individual or organization; or to maintain the physical security and safety of the school.
The law enforcement unit does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit if it also performs other, non-law enforcement functions for the school, including investigation of incidents or conduct that constitutes or leads to a disciplinary proceeding against a student (FERPA general guidance, 2012). Law enforcement unit records according to the FERPA guidelines state that records created for law enforcement purposes and maintained by a law enforcement unit are not educational records and therefore not subject to the privacy protections of FERPA.
This means that any records that law enforcements units gather allow that unit the ability to refuse to provide an eligible student with an opportunity to inspect and review the records. The law enforcement unit may disclose those records to any third party without the eligible student’s prior written consent (FERPA general guidance, 2012). Education records or personally identifiable information from education records which the school shares with law enforcement unit do not lose their protected status as education records because they are shared with the law enforcement unit (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
If an eligible student believes that a school has failed to comply with his or her request to educational records, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: the date of the request for access to the education records; the name of the school official to whom the request was made; a dated copy of any written request to the school should be provided if possible; the response of the school official; and specific nature of the information requested (FERPA general guidance, 2012). There is also a process that an eligible student can use to file a complaint regarding any amendment.
If an eligible student believes that a school has failed to comply with his or her request for amendment of inaccurate information in education records or failed to offer the student an opportunity for a hearing on the matter, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: The name of the school official to whom the request was made; the response of the school official, if any; the specific nature of the inaccurate information for which amendment was requested; and evidence provided to the school to support the assertion that such information is inaccurate (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
The complaint regarding disclosure according to the FERPA guidelines states that, if an eligible student believes that a school has improperly disclosed personally identifiable information from his or her education records to a third party, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: the date or approximate date the alleged disclosure occurred or the date the student learned of the disclosure; the name of the school official who made the disclosure, if known; the third party to whom the disclosure was made; and the specific nature of the education records disclosed (FERPA general guidance, 2012).
The following facts and FERPA training questions are from Case Western Reserve University used in it training of Administration Staff and Faculty. This information can be found on the Case Western Reserve web site at: www. case. edu/directory. What are the FERPA Basics? * Student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student. * As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect education records in your possession. * Some information (called “Directory Information”) can be released without the student’s written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well. Before releasing any Directory Information, you should consult with the University Registrar’s
Office to determine whether the student has chosen to not disclose and to insure any release is consistent with University policy. * You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee. Legitimate educational need to know is the basic principle. * If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you talk to the office responsible for student records. Contact the University Registrar’s Office or refer the request to that office (www. case. edu/directory). What is Directory Information? * Information, the release of which is not normally considered a violation of a person’s privacy. May be disclosed without a student’s written consent unless a student has requested that this information not be released (www. case. edu/directory). What information is considered directory information?
* Name (including both maiden name and married name, where applicable) * Address, telephone listing, and electronic mail address * Date and place of birth * Major field of study * Anticipated graduation date * Enrollment Status (undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time) * Dates of attendance * Degrees and awards received * Participation in officially recognized sports and activities * Weight and height (members of athletic teams) (www. case. edu/directory). What else should I know about directory information? If you do not have a way of knowing whether or not a student has requested confidentiality of directory information, do not release it. * Just because you may does not mean you should.
The university considers a student’s right to privacy to be very important and does not routinely share directory information with third parties. * To request that directory information be made confidential, the student should notify (in writing) the Office of the University Registrar. * If a student requests confidentiality of directory information, it is all-or-nothing. In other words, not even the student’s name will appear in on-line directories (www. case. edu/directory). What about Parents? When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student. * Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution. * Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc. ) only at the discretion of the institution AND after it has been documented that their child is legally their dependent (www. case. edu/directory).
www. ed. gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index. html (2012) FERPA general guidance for students. Retrieved from http://www. ed. gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index. html (2000). Staff FERPA training Retrieved from http://www. case. edu/registrar/ferpa/ferpatrain8. html