Confidentiality/FERPA

 

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Information

Faculty with specific questions on FERPA issues should feel free to contact the registrar, Frank Benginia (ext. 5090), or any class dean, Karen Clemence or John McKnight (both at ext. 5080).

Policy on Student Records
Annual Notification
Definition of Education Records
Student Access to Their Educational Records
Student Right to Amend Records
Disclosure of Educational Records to School Officials
Disclosure of Directory Information
Disclosure of Non-directory Information

Introduction
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as the “Buckley Amendment”), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records.  Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements.

Under federal law, students have the right to obtain access to their educational records and to prevent disclosure of records to third parties without authorization.  In accordance with FERPA, Lafayette College will permit students to have access to specified records and will prevent release of records to third parties without personal authorization from the student except as noted in the regulations.

Policy on Student Records
Lafayette College seeks to teach students to become mature, reasoned, educated adults capable of defining and realizing their academic and personal developmental goals. To that end, the College practice is to regard students as the primary contact for interaction regarding information contained in student educational records and to respect the confidentiality of that information. The College encourages students to act responsibly by communicating directly with their parents.

Under federal law, if College personnel determine that it is in the best interest of the student to disclose to a student’s parent(s) information from that student’s educational record, the College may elect to do so after receiving proof of the student’s financial dependency on their parent (s) for federal income tax purposes. In these rare cases, the College practice is to communicate first, when possible, with the student regarding a parental request for information.

Students who are not dependent on their parent (s) for federal income tax purposes, and students who are dependent but wish to provide their parent (s) general access to their educational record, may allow College personnel to share educational record information with their parent (s) by signing a waiver. Waivers can be found on the Registrar’s website or picked up in the Offices of the Registrar or the Dean of the College.

Students also may elect to have information from their educational record shared with graduate schools, potential employers, or other third parties by signing a release that can be found on the Registrar’s website or picked up in the office of the Registrar or the Dean of the College.

Annual Notification
FERPA requires that the College provide notification annually to students of their rights under FERPA.  The College provides this notification each semester through its publication of the Course Schedule that is distributed to all students.  The annual notification includes the rights outlined below:

FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.  These rights include:

(1) The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access.

(2) The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.

(3) The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

(4) The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920

Definition of Education Records
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.  Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfiche, and email, among others.

Education records do not include such things as sole possession records or notes, information obtained through personal knowledge that is not recorded, law enforcement records, employment records, when the student is also an employee, medical treatment records, or alumni records.

At Lafayette, the individuals or offices responsible for maintaining Education Records include the following:

Registrar
Permanent transcript: Includes dates of attendance, course of study, grades, and official action of the College relating to probation, dismissal, etc.

Dean of the College
Student personnel file: Includes application for admission, test scores, grades, student biographical form, copies of correspondence with or about student, notation of official disciplinary actions, petitions to Academic Progress Committee, copies of letters of recommendation.

Controller
Business records.

Adviser
Advising files: Includes grades, copies of petitions, and adviser’s notes and correspondence with student.

Communications
Public Information file: Includes copies of Lafayette College Student Biographical Form and news releases about students.

Health Professions Advisor
Health Professions Advisory Committee file: Includes the student’s transcript, medical aptitude scores, faculty evaluation, and correspondence on professional school admission.

Students’ Access to Their Educational Record
A student who wishes to obtain access to his or her student record should submit to the Registrar, Dean, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record the student wishes to inspect.  Within a reasonable amount of time , but no later than 45 days, the College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Students may not see letters of reference or recommendations for which they have waived their rights of review.

Students’ Rights to Amend Records
A student who wishes to ask the college to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the portion of the record that the student would like changed, and specify why it should be changed.  If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.  Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

It is appropriate to seek amendment of information that is inaccurate or misleading.  This is not a grade grievance mechanism.  For example, a student could question whether a grade has been entered incorrectly, but not the legitimacy of the grade itself.

Disclosure of Educational Records to School Officials
The College discloses information from the education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the College.

Upon request, the College also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Disclosure of Directory Information
FERPA specifically identifies certain information called “Directory Information” that may be disclosed by the College without the consent of the student.  Lafayette College considers the following to be student directory information:

Name
College and home address
Phone numbers
P.O. box number
Email address
Date of birth
Photograph
Dates of attendance
Class year
Degree program and major
Adviser’s name
Degrees and awards received
Participation in College activities
Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Although this information is public in nature, students may request that their directory information be withheld and released only upon written authorization by completing the required form and submitting it annually to the Registrar’s Office.

Disclosure of Non-Directory Information
The College may, in specific instances and under strict limitations, release information from education records to individuals and/or agencies without the written consent of the students. Such persons are:

a. College personnel with legitimate educational interests.  College personnel include all employees or agencies contracting with the college to perform service on its behalf.

b. Officials of educational institutions in which the student seeks to enroll, provided that the student is notified of the release, receives a copy of the record if desired, and has an opportunity to challenge the factual content of the record. The procedure for challenging records is outlined below.

c. Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States; the Secretary of the Department of Education; the Attorney General of the United States, Veterans Administration officials, and state educational authorities.

d. Persons requiring information in connection with a student’s financial aid.

e. State and local officials to whom the College must report pursuant to a state statute adopted before November 19, 1974.

f. Officials of organizations that conduct studies for educational agencies or institutions provided that personally identifiable data is available only to officers of such organizations and that such information will be destroyed when no longer needed for purposes of the study.

g. Officials of accrediting organizations.

h. Parents of dependent students as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

i. Parents of dependent students under the age of 21 who violate the college’s alcohol or drug policies.

j. Persons authorized to receive such data through judicial order or pursuant to a subpoena. In such cases, when allowed, the College will attempt to notify the student before its compliance with such orders.

k. Individuals who require information in connection with an emergency that threatens the health and safety of the student or other persons.

Lafayette also may release, without restriction, information which cannot be identified with particular students. An example of such data would be statistical information abstracted from educational records.  The College reserves the right not to provide copies of third-party documents.

Disclaimer

Lafayette College reserves the right in its sole judgment to amend any policy or program described herein without prior notice to persons who might thereby be affected. At its sole option, the College may suspend or eliminate courses, academic departments, or degree programs; change curricular offerings, graduation requirements, and regulations on standing of students; alter its class schedule and academic calendar; or make changes of any nature whenever in its judgment such changes are desirable for any reason. The provisions of this publication are not to be regarded as an irrevocable contract between the College and the student. Payment of tuition or attendance at any classes shall constitute acceptance by the student of the College's rights as set forth in this paragraph.