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What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

FERPA regulations protect the privacy of ALL students without regard to the modality of teaching.  On-Line and Distance Learning students are covered in the same manner as students attending classes in brick and mortar facilities.


Access and Privacy of Records

FERPA grants students four rights:

1.Right of access to their educational records.
2.Colleges must seek a student’s consent before records are released to third parties (even the student’s parents or spouse).
3.Students have the right to challenge any inaccurate, misleading or inappropriate information in their educational records.
4.Colleges are required to inform students of these access and privacy rights guaranteed by FERPA.
 

Under this act, certain protected classes of information cannot be released to any third party without the specific written release from the eligible student. Protected classes under FERPA include any information concerning a particular student’s grades, grade point averages, social security number, courses, billing, and other “protected student records” maintained by the college.


FERPA for Faculty, Staff, and Student Workers

The information on the following pages are the basic rules that should be followed by SWTJC faculty, staff, and student workers.

Rule # 1

FERPA recognizes a person enrolled in post-secondary education as a "student" and provides that individual certain rights, regardless of age. Therefore, a parent does not have an inherent right to access his/her child's education records.

Rule # 2

Faculty, staff, and student workers have access to education records for the sole purpose of performing their jobs professionally and responsibly. They have a responsibility to protect the confidentiality of education records in their possession, regardless of the medium in which the records are presented.

Rule # 3

Education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student. It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and student workers to verify that student information is not restricted before releasing it.

Rule # 4

School officials, including field supervisors for student teachers and student interns, must protect the privacy of education records and not disclose personally identifiable information about a student or permit inspection of the student's records without his or her written consent.

The student's written signed consent must contain three elements:

  • Specify the records to be released
    Examples: grades; notes based on observations; billing information; general assessment of performance of student in a class or in a field-based experience
  • Identify the party or class of parties to whom the records should be released
    Examples: prospective employer, non-SWTJC school official, scholarship committee member, parent 
  • Indicate the reason for the release
    Examples: as part of an application for employment, admission into a graduate program, application for a scholarship or grant
NOTE:
 
FERPA is not a total block on release of student information. The act also provides for the release of “Directory Information” which does not fall under the protected classification.
 

Unless a student has specifically requested in writing that they want NO information released, the following “directory information” is allowed to be released:

  1. Student’s name
  2. Student’s address
  3. Student’s telephone
  4. Student’s date of birth
  5. Student’s major field of study
  6. Student’s dates of attendance
  7. Student’s degrees, certificates, and awards
  8. Student’s most recent educational agency or institution.

A Student Consent form may be found in the Flores Student Services building at the registrar’s office and must be completed by the student prior to the disclosure of this information.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Official transcripts of student academic records may be released only through the Registrar’s Office.
  • Posting education records (e.g. grades) using the student's name, student ID number or any portion of the social security number violates FERPA.

Any questions regarding FERPA guidelines should be directed to the Business Office in the Flores Building (830) 591-7365.