Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

WHAT IS FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act)?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

WHAT ARE EDUCATION RECORDS?

Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that directly relate to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including typed, computer-generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.

Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:
- sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
- medical treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists;
- employment records when employment is not contingent upon being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment;
- records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose, are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records;
- post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) that does not relate to the person as a student.

ACCESS TO STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student are:

- citizenship
- disciplinary status
- ethnicity
- gender
- grade point average (GPA)
- marital status
- SSN/student ID number
- grades/exam scores
- test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)
- progress reports, e.g. DegreeWorks


The college will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son's or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization permitting the parents access. Exceptions are noted in the college's policy concerning the privacy of student education records and includes: access by "school officials" the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest;" access by school officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll; access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

At Clark College these terms are defined below:

"School official" is any person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, a person or company with whom the college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent, or the National Student Clearinghouse, an agency which acts as a clearinghouse for student loan deferment reporting), a person elected to the Board of Trustees, a student serving on an official college committee, or a person employed by or under contract to the college to perform a specific task. A "school official" has a "legitimate educational interest" whenever he or she is performing a task related to a student's education, performing a task that is specified in his or her position, description, or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student's education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family (such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid) or disclosure of information in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena. (NOTE: At Clark College all subpoenas are first reviewed by the Attorney General to determine an appropriate response.)

STUDENT'S RIGHT TO REVIEW AND CORRECT HIS/HER RECORDS

Students and former students have the right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days from making such a request. The right of inspection and review includes: the right to access, with an explanation and interpretation of the record; the right to a copy of the education record when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record. The institution may refuse to provide a copy of a student's education record provided such refusal does not limit access.

Limitations exist on students' rights to inspect and review their education records. For example, the institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review the following: Students may request that their education records be amended if they believe such information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. Students must request in writing that the office that maintains those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the records they want corrected and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights.

The registration office will review the request and inform the students in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If the records custodian refuses to amend the record, students have the right to an appeal. The appeal meeting must be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request of the student has been received. The student will be notified, reasonable in advance, of the date, place, and time of the appeal meeting.

Students will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. One or more other persons, including an attorney, may accompany the student. The hearing officer/board will make its decision in writing based upon the evidence presented. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.

If the result of the appeal process supports the complaint, the education record will be amended according and the student will be so informed. If the decision is not to amend the education record students have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreement with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion of the record is maintained, and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, the student's statement will be included.

WHAT IS DIRECTORY OR PUBLIC INFORMATION?

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent.

Clark College has designated the following information as directory information and may release this information, unless the student has submitted a request for non-disclosure:

- student name
- student address
- student email
- date of birth
- major field of study
- quarters of attendance
- degrees & awards received
- participation in activities
- weight & height of members of athletic teams


RESTRICTING RELEASE OF DIRECTORY INFORMATION

According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that their names will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other college publications. Also, employers, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of the student's directory information and will be informed that we have no information available about the student's attendance at Clark College. Students who wish to have specific directory information released may do so by providing a written authorization to the Registrar's Office.

ANNUAL NOTIFICATION TO STUDENTS

Clark College students are notified of their FERPA rights each quarter with the information sent in the registration mailing.

FERPA is published in our quarterly class schedule and catalog.

COMMENTS/QUESTIONS

General questions may be directed to the Registrar's Office or the Vice President of Student Development located in Gaiser Hall.

FILING A COMPLAINT

If a parent or eligible student feels that the institution has not fully honored his/her privacy rights under FERPA, a written complaint may be filed with the Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. The Family Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.