Educational records are kept by University offices to facilitate the educational development of students. Faculty and staff members may also keep informal records relating to their functional responsibilities with individual students.
A federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also know as FERPA and the Buckley Amendment) as amended, affords students certain rights concerning their student educational records. Students have the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records. Educational institutions have the responsibility to prevent improper disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records
Student and Parent Rights Relating to Educational Records
Students have a right to know about the purposes, content, and location of information kept as part of their educational records.
They have a right to gain access to and challenge the content of their educational records. FERPA was not intended to provide a process to be used to question substantive judgments that are correctly recorded. The rights of challenge are not intended to allow students to contest, for example, a grade in a course because they felt a higher grade should have been assigned.
Students also have a right to expect that information in their educational records will be kept confidential, disclosed only with their permission or under provisions of the law.
Parents have the right to expect confidentiality of certain information about them in student records and, under certain conditions, to gain access to information in student educational records. For purposes of FERPA, the University considers all students independent, limiting the student educational record information that may be released to parents, without the student’s specific written permission, to directory information.
Student educational records are specifically defined as records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and maintained by the University or someone acting for the University according to policy.
Excluded from student educational records are records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel in the sole possession of the maker and that are not accessible or revealed to any other person, except for a substitute. Additionally, notes of a professor or staff member intended for his or her own use are not part of the educational record, nor are records of police services, application records of students not admitted to the University, alumni records, or records of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or other recognized professionals.
Records relating to an individual who is employed by the University not as a result of his or her status as a student are also excluded. However, employment records relating to University students who are employed as a result of their status as students are considered educational records.
Some information about students is considered “directory information”. Directory information may be publicly shared by the institution unless the student has taken formal action to restrict its release.
Directory information includes:
- PeopleSoft Number, Net Id, CARS (Health Center)
- Date of birth
- Address (including e-mail address)
- Telephone number
- School or college
- Major field of study
- Degree sought
- Student level (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
- Expected date of completion of degree requirements and graduation
- Degrees and awards received
- Residency/match information for medical and dental students
- Dates of attendance
- Full or part time enrollment status
- Class roster (only to be released to students in the class)
- The previous educational agency or institution attended
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of athletic team members and other similar information, including performance statistics, photographic likenesses and video of athletic team members
- For student employees, employing department and dates of employment
A student must formally request the University Registrar to prevent disclosure of directory information, except to school officials with legitimate educational interests and certain others as specified in the regulations. Once filed, this request becomes a permanent part of the student’s record until the student instructs the University, in writing, to have the request removed.
Some Guidelines for Faculty and Staff
- DO refer requests for information from the educational record of a student to the proper education record custodian. When in doubt about the proper custodian, contact the University Registrar or the University Privacy Officer.
- DO keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching and advising responsibilities. Private notes of a faculty member concerning a student and intended for the faculty member’s own use are not part of the student’s educational records.
- DO keep any personal professional records relating to individual students separate from their educational records. Private records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel are to be kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not to be accessible or revealed to any other person, except a substitute.
- DO change factual information regarding grades and performance in an educational record when the student is able to provide valid documentation that information is inaccurate or misleading. The substantive judgement of a faculty member about a student’s work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of students’ right to challenge their educational records.
- DO NOT display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, Social Security Numbers, or other personal identifiers. If scores or grades are posted, use some code known only to you and the individual student. Even a partial Social Security Number should not be used. In no case should the list be posted in alphabetic sequence by student name.
- DO NOT put papers, graded exams books, or lab reports containing student names and grades in publicly accessible places. Students are not to have access to the scores and grades of others in class in ways that allow other students to be identified.
- DO NOT request information from the educational record custodian without a legitimate educational interest and the appropriate authority to do so.
- DO NOT share student educational record information, including grades or grade point averages, with other faculty or staff members of the University unless their official responsibilities identify their “legitimate educational interest” in that information for that student.
- DO NOT share information from student educational records, including grades or grade point averages, with parents or others outside the institution, including in letters of recommendation, without written permission from the student.
- WHEN IN DOUBT, err on the side of caution and do not release student educational information. Contact the University Registrar or the University Privacy Officer for guidance.
Rachel Krinsky Rudnick
University Privacy Officer
See also the Office of the Registrar FERPA website.