FERPA: An introduction to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Presented by Laura Stoll Registrar Missouri University of Science and Technology Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) A Federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational records, to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Who is covered by FERPA? Any individual who is or has been in attendance at an institution, in person or by correspondence, regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency. Primary Rights of Students Under FERPA To inspect and review their educational records. To seek to amend their educational records. To have some control over the release of information about their educational records. What if a student wants to inspect a record? The institution must comply within 45 days. Generally required to give copies only if failure to do so would effectively deny access, such as if a student does not live within commuting distance Do NOT destroy records if a request for access is pending! What can I release? Directory information may be shared, unless a student has asked that it not be. We flag students in Joe’SS (the window shade) who do not want their information released to the public. If you encounter this flag, say, “I’m sorry, but I have no information to release on that individual.” Do NOT say anything that indicates that this person is a Missouri S&T student. Missouri S&T’s Directory Information is (Same for all UM system): Name Address Telephone listing Email address Date and place of birth Major field of study Dates of attendance Student Level Degrees and awards received Weight and height of members of athletic teams Enrollment status (i.e. full/part time) The most recent education agency or institution attended. Participation in officially recognized sports What can I not release? Social security number Student number Race/ethnicity/nationality Gender Grades Other “personally identifiable” information without written consent. To whom may I release information? If it is directory information, and the student has not asked that it be withheld in accordance with your school’s policies for doing so, you may release the information. To whom can I release non-directory information? To release any information to someone other than directory information, the student must have given prior consent in writing. The consent must: Specify records to be disclosed State the purpose of the disclosure Identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made Are there any exceptions to the prior consent requirement? Institutions may release information from student records without prior consent to: School officials with legitimate educational interest (as defined by institution within FERPA guidelines) To Federal, State, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs Exceptions to prior consent continued… In connection with financial aid To organizations conducting studies of or on behalf of educational institutions (provided the institutions research board has cleared the research.) To accrediting agencies To comply with a judicial order or subpoena In health or safety emergencies Directory information (as described before) To the student Is everyone at an institution a “school official”? School officials are individuals employed by the institution A person serving on an institutional governing board A person employed by or under contract to the institution to perform a specific task such as an attorney or auditor School officials continued… Each institution should define specifically who are considered its school officials. Just because an individual is a school official does NOT mean that he or she has access to any student’s record at any time for any reason. What is an “educational need to know”? Educational need to know, or legitimate educational interest, is when the official needs the information to: Perform a task related to a student’s education Perform a task related to the discipline of a student Provide a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care counseling, job placement or financial aid Perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description or by a contract agreement What about subpoenas? Must be served in person. When a subpoena requests information about a student, the institution must attempt to contact the student. Usually prior notice to the student is needed. Prior notice is NOT required when responding to: A federal grand jury subpoena, which specifies that the student not be informed of the existence of the subpoena A law enforcement subpoena which specifies the same What is the penalty of violating FERPA and how would anyone know? Students may file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) is authorized by the Secretary of Education to investigate, process, and review complaints and violations under FERPA If a complaint is found to be valid, the institution may lose Department of Education funds, for instance federal financial aid. Generally this is done only if compliance can not be secured with voluntary means. Solomon Act and FERPA If requested by an arm of the military, the institution must provide student recruitment information, which is similar, but different than directory information. It includes: Name Address (determined to include email address) Telephone number Age and place of birth Class level Academic major Degrees received Most recent institution in which student was enrolled. Solomon continued This information must be provided for students who are 17 or older and enrolled in at least 1 credit hour If the student has requested that the information be withheld under FERPA, then you do not have to release it under Solomon. FERPA bottom line for you Institutions may not disclose information about a student without a student’s written consent (with few exceptions.) You, as an advisor, are often the one who is asked for information, so you need to know what to release, about whom, to whom and when. You need to know how to record requests for release of information Permission Letter to Write a Letter of Recommendation Strategies for dealing with upset individuals and FERPA Listen. Make sure that you have heard the entire story before you respond. Repeat. Show that you understand by repeating back to the person the question they asked or recounting/summarizing the story. Empathize. Acknowledge the feelings of the other person, for example, “I can see how this situation is upsetting you.” Tell them what you can and can not do and WHY. (Use knowledge of FERPA here.) Use the FERPA page in Joe’SS to know what information you can and cannot share. Obtain the student’s signature on the Non-directory information Release Form. Form is available on the web Try to speak directly to the student. Or get the students name and have a supervisor call him/her. In Conclusion: Thank you for your time and questions today.