The FERPA laws are vital to the work we do at Edison State College. Before accessing student records, carefully review the material presented in this site. Maintaining confidentiality of student records can be achieved by knowing a few basic requirements of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
What is FERPA?
FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ education records. Education records include any information or documentation that is recorded in any way, including records produced by handwriting, computer, email, audio, and video, among others. Educational records contain information directly related to a student, and are maintained by Edison State College or any party acting on its behalf.
Who is protected under FERPA?
Students who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or parental dependency status. FERPA does not apply to deceased students or persons who have applied but have not attended.
Can I discuss a student’s academic performance under FERPA?
A student’s academic performance is part of his/her education record, and discussing the student’s performance with anyone other than the student (or another school official with a “legitimate educational interest”) is a violation of FERPA. Please refrain from discussing the academic performance, grades, or other parts of a student’s education record with anyone other than the student.
How do I handle a parents’ request for information under FERPA?
Although parents often are paying for their child’s education, parents are not entitled to review the student’s records without the student’s permission. Therefore, faculty or staff who give parents updates about their child’s academic performance without written permission of the student are in violation of FERPA. An “Authorization to Release Records to a Third Party” can be found on the Edison website. http://www.edison.edu/registrar/authorization_release_educational_records_third_party.pdf
If parents do request such information you’ll need to explain that you cannot discuss the student’s academic performance without written permission of the student. Grades, classroom performance, quiz and test scores, and exams are all part of the student’s education record and require written permission to divulge to parents. Student authorization must detail exactly what information can be released to the parents and should be in writing signed by the student.
Can I write student recommendation letters under FERPA?
Recommendation letters on behalf of a student that contain specific information from the student’s educational record, such as grades or a student’s GPA, are in violation of FERPA unless you have received prior written permission from the student to disclose that information. When you receive requests for letters of recommendation from the student, you should have the student sign a written authorization enabling you to disclose such relevant information in the letter. In the alternative, the content of the letter should not contain information from the student’s education record as described above.
Returning assignments, papers, or exams under FERPA
It is a violation of FERPA to leave any graded assignments, papers, or exams unattended for students to pick up where students could view the work of other students. Such work can be returned to students in such a manner if it is in sealed envelopes with the student’s name on the envelope. Further, it is appropriate for a staff member to keep such student work and return it to the students upon verification of the student’s identity.
When is the student’s consent not required to disclose information?
- To school officials with a legitimate educational interest
- To officials of another school in which the student seeks to enroll
- To certain federal, state, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state or federally supported educational programs
- To anyone providing financial aid to the student
- To agents acting on behalf of Edison State College (clearinghouses, degree/enrollment verifiers)
- To organizations conducting studies on behalf of Edison State College
- To accrediting organizations
- To parents/legal guardians when their children under age 21 have violated the alcohol or drug policies of Edison State College
- To comply with a judicial order or subpoena
- To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency
- To the student
- Results of disciplinary hearings to an alleged victim of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense
- To the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for purposes of the Student Exchange Visitor Information System
- To military recruiters who request “Student Recruiting Information.” Student recruiting information is defined as name, address, telephone listing, age, level of education, and major.
- To the Internal Revenue Service in compliance with the Taxpayer Relief Act
- To the Department of Veterans Affairs
Where can I find more information regarding FERPA?
Federal Government website on FERPA
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Take the following quiz to test your FERPA knowledge. This test is for your own personal use to see how you would handle various scenarios. Results are neither recorded or tracked.