The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended, is a Federal Law that states (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a 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 educational records.
The law defines student education records to include “records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by a university or by a person acting for a university.” Within 45 days of receiving a request, universities must allow students to inspect those education records. Excluded from the definition of student education records are records made about students by teachers and administrators for their own use and not shown to others.
Piedmont 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 the students’ educational records without the prior 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 student 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 Piedmont University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students’ educational interest are allowed access to students’ educational records. These members include personnel in the Offices of Student Affairs, Registrar, Business, Financial Aid, Alumni, 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, telephone number, email address,
date and place of birth, 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, weight and height of members of athletic teams, and photographic, video and digital images. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar. Requests for non-disclosure will be honored 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 educational records, to challenge the contents of their educational records, to have a
hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. The Registrar at Piedmont University has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student records, which include admissions, personal, financial files, and academic and placement records
Students wishing to review their records must make written requests to the Registrar listing the item(s) of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available. 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 source document which exists elsewhere). These copies would be made at the students’ expense at rates listed in the current catalog. Educational records do not include records of instructional, administrative, or educational personnel which are the sole possession of the makerand 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 physicians of the students’ choosing. Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by 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 educational 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 educational 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 Registrar or other holder of the student’s records is in agreement with the student 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 informed by the Registrar of right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Registrar, 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 a hearing by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students expense. The hearing panel which will adjudicate such challenges will be the Academic Policies Committee. Decisions of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. Appropriate educational records will be corrected or amended, if necessary, in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panel. If a decision is unsatisfactory to a student, the student may place with the educational records statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the educational records, maintained as part of the student’s records and released whenever the records in question are disclosed. Students who believe that the adjudication of their challenges were conducted unfairly or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the President of the institution to aid them in filing complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), Department of Education, Room 4074, Switzer Building, Washington, D.C. 20202.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as the law and the institution’s policy warrant.
No information concerning a student’s educational records may be disclosed over the telephone to anyone, including the student.