The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a Federal law which states that a
written institutional policy must be established and statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Concordia University accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent. No one outside the institution shall have access to nor will the institution disclose any information from student's education records without the written consent of students except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the act.
Within the Concordia University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the student's educational interest are allowed access to student education records. These members include personnel in the Office of the Registrar, Student Financial Planning, Office of Admission, Office of the Dean of Students, and Academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.
At its discretion the institution may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, address, telephone number, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams. Students may withhold Directory Information by notifying the Registrar in writing within the first five class days of each academic year.
Request for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold Directory Information must be filed annually in the Office of the Registrar.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels to be unacceptable. The Registrar at Concordia University has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for academic, cooperative education, and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar, listing the items of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions; e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial hold exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere. These copies would be made at the student's expense at prevailing rates. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by a physician of the student's choosing.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purpose for which they were collected.
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss their problems informally with the Registrar. If the decisions are in agreement with the student's request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended; and they will be informed by the Office of the Registrar of their rights to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the university Provost who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student's expense. The hearing panels which will adjudicate such challenges will be the Provost, the Dean of Students, and the Registrar.
Decisions of the hearing panels will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panels, if the decisions are in favor of the students. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the students, the students may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student's records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair, or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request in writing assistance from the President of the institution. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged may file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington D.C. 20201, concerning the alleged failures of Concordia University to comply with the Act.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and institutions policy warrants.