FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for Faculty and Staff

Also referred to as the Buckley Amendment

 

In a Nutshell...

College students must be permitted to inspect their own educational records.

School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their records without written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the Act.

 

Gives students the right to:

Inspect and review their educational records;

Request the amendment of inaccuracy or misleading records;

Consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information;

File a complaint with the U.S. Dept of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with this law.

 

Who must comply with FERPA?

Any educational institution or educational agency that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

 

Compliance

The University of Georgia strives to fully comply with this law by protecting the privacy of student records and judiciously evaluating requests for release of information from these records.

It's imperative that anyone who has access to students' educational information understand their responsibilities in protecting this information.

 

Who is covered?

Any individual who is taking or has taken a course at UGA—regardless of age.

Includes:

  1. joint enrollment students
  2. independent and distance learning students
  3. transient students
  4. exchange students
  5. students auditing a course
  6. distance education students

 

What is an Education Record?

Any record, with certain exceptions, maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for the agency or institution that is directly related to a student or students.

This record can contain a student's name, or students' names, or information from which an individual student or students can be personally (individually) identified.

Includes all mediums: handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche, web, etc.

 

What an Education Record is Not

  1. “Sole possession” notes
  2. Law enforcement unit records
  3. Records maintained exclusively for individuals in their capacity as employees
  4. Records of individuals who are employed as a result of their status as students (work-study, GA/TAs) are education records.
  5. Alumni records

 

“Sole Possession” Notes

  1. Made by one person as an individual observation or recollection
  2. Kept in the possession of the maker
  3. Best advice: If you don't want it reviewed, don't write it down.

 

Directory Information

Directory Information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.

Directory Information may be released without the written, signed consent of a student unless the student has placed a Restriction on his or her record.

Following guidelines provided by the FERPA Compliance Office (U.S. Dept of Education), institutions determine what items are included in their Directory Information.

 

Directory Information at UGA Student's Name

  • Address(es)
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Phone number(s)
  • Most recent education institution attended
  • Email address
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Date/place of birth
  • Height/weight of athletic team members
  • Major
  • Fields of study

 

  • Dates of attendance

 

What can Never be included in Directory Information

  1. Race
  2. Gender
  3. Social Security number or partial sequence
  4. Grades
  5. GPA
  6. Country of citizenship
  7. Religion

 

Opt Out of Directory Information Disclosure

Students may request that none of their directory information be disclosed without written, signed consent by placing a Restriction on their records.

It's important that they understand the full implications of this request

 

Implications

Student's name, address, phone, email will not be included in campus directory and will not be released to anyone.

Name will not be included in any news releases (honor rolls, graduation, etc.).

Information will also not be released to potential employers, insurance companies, credit agencies, etc. without signed release from the student.

 

Basically, it means that we cannot acknowledge that they are a UGA student. The only appropriate response to inquiries is: “We have no information available on this individual.”

 

Prior Consent for Release

Student must provide a signed and dated written consent before a school official may disclose education records (non-directory information).

Please note that this includes letters of recommendation.

  1. Consent must: Specify records that may be disclosed;
  2. State purpose of disclosure; and
  3. Identify party or class of parties to whom disclosure may be made.

 

Georgia Open Records Act

Requires the University to release directory information as requested unless a student has placed a Restriction on their information.

 

Exceptions to Prior Consent: A Few of the Most Common Ones

Directory Information—unless a student has placed a Restriction on his or her record;

To school officials with legitimate educational interests; This access is only to be used for information that is necessary to perform one's university responsibilities. It does not include access to records of relatives, friends, or co-workers. Inappropriate access can result in revocation of access privileges.

To Federal, State, and local authorities conducting an audit, evaluation, or enforcement of education programs;

To accrediting organizations.

 

Health or Safety Emergencies

FERPA allows institutions to release information, without consent, in connection with an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals. Please review information provided by the UGA Behavioral Assessment and Response Council (BARC) for guidance on how to address these concerns. http://www.uga.edu/studentaffairs/barc/Barc_webview.htm

 

How Does FERPA apply to Faculty and Staff?

Grades : Students' scores or grades should not be displayed publicly. If scores or grades are posted, use a code known only to the faculty member and the individual student and be sure that the list is not in alphabetical order.

Grades , transcripts, or DARS reports distributed for purposes of advisement should not be placed in plain view in open mailboxes located in public places.

Papers : Graded papers or tests should not be left unattended on a desk in plain view in a public area nor should students sort through them in order to retrieve their own work.

Class rolls/grade rolls : These and other reports should be handled in a confidential manner and the information contained in them should not be redisclosed to third parties.

Parents : Parents, spouses and significant others do not have a right to information contained in a student's educational records without the written, signed release of the student.

Employers : Employers do not have a right to educational information pertaining to a student without the written, signed release of the student.

OASIS/IM S: Faculty are deemed to be “school officials” and can access data in OASIS/IMS if they have a legitimate educational need to know. UGA staff members may obtain access if they have a legitimate educational need to know. A legitimate educational interest exists if the staff or faculty member needs to view the education record to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities. Neither curiosity nor personal interest is a legitimate educational “need to know.”

Inappropriate access may result in revocation of access or other disciplinary action.

Students' Schedule s: Do not provide anyone with a student's schedule or assist anyone in locating a student on campus. If the individual indicates that it's an emergency, refer him or her to the Office of Student Support Services at 706.542.8220.

 

When in doubt, contact the Office of the Registrar for guidance at 706.542.6020.