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FERPA Key Concepts

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records.  The Act provides for the right to inspect and review educational records, to seek to amend those records, and to limit disclosure or information from the records.  The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding.

Records

Information maintained in any way, including, but not limited to:

  • Audio Tape
  • Video Tape
  • Print
  • Microfiche
  • Handwriting
  • Microfilm
  • Film
  • Computer Media

Disclosure

To permit access to, release, transfer or allow any other type of communication of personally identifiable information contained in education records to any party by any means; including oral, written or electronic communication.

Directory Information

Is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Name, date of birth, address, email address, telephone listing
  • Dates of attendance, degrees, and awards
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities & sports

Directory information cannot include:

  • Student Identification numbers
  • Social security numbers (whole or partial)
  • Ethnicity/race/nationality
  • Gender

Educational Records

All records which contain information directly related to a student; and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

This is considered as any information which makes a student personally identifiable, such as an ID number or home address, is considered an educational record.

Records which fall outside of the definition include:

  • Sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel
  • Law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless employment is contingent upon school attendance).
  • Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment.
  • Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records).

School Official

May be:

  • An employee of a college (administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff).
  • A person elected to the board of trustees.
  • A company or person employed/contracted by a college to perform a special task (i.e., attorney, auditor, or collection agency).
  • A person or student serving on an official committee (i.e., disciplinary/grievance, scholarship0 or assisting an official in his/her tasks (i.e., work study students).

Legitimate Educational Interest

In accordance with FERPA, a school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility. This includes such purposes as:

  • Performing appropriate tasks that are specified in her/his position description or by a contract agreement.
  • Performing a task related to a student's education.
  • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Providing services for the student or the student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.

A legitimate educational interest does not convey inherent rights to any and all student information. The law discriminates between educational interest, and personal or private interest; determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Educational interest does not constitute authority to disclose information to a third party without the student's written permission.