What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), passed in 1974 and still being interpreted by the Department of Education, is a law designed to protect the privacy interests of students, not institutions. Under this legislation, students enrolled in colleges and universities have the following fundamental rights:
- The right to inspect and review your education records within 45 days of the day Clarke University receives your written request for access. You can get the necessary form and submit your request at the Registrar’s Office. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify you of the time and place where the records you wish to review may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of your education records if you believe they are inaccurate or misleading. You may ask Clarke University to amend a record that you believe is inaccurate or misleading. This ability to amend a record does not apply to subjective types of information such as grades or evaluations unless it can be shown that a grade was recorded incorrectly. To request amendment of your education records you should complete the form available in the Registrar’s Office and submit it to the Registrar. If Clarke University decides not to amend the record as you requested, you will be notified of the decision in writing and advised of your right to a hearing regarding your request for amendment. You will also be provided with information regarding the procedures for such a hearing.
- The right to provide written consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by Clarke University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including security office personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom Clarke University has contracted (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, employed in or voluntarily assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review your education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, Clarke University discloses education records without consent to officials of any other school in which you seek or intend to enroll.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the Clarke University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
A copy of the notification can also be found in the Student Handbook.
Student FERPA rights pertain to the education records Clarke maintains on a student, not to the student himself/herself.
What is covered by FERPA?
The records Clarke maintains in any form for any individual who attends or has attended a class offered by Clarke University are considered to be education records and are covered by FERPA.
Education records are those maintained by Clarke University, or a party acting for the institution, which are directly related to a student. Records containing a student’s name, social security number or other personally identifiable information in whatever medium, are covered by FERPA unless identified in one of the law’s excluded categories.
Personally identifiable means data or information which may include:
- Student’s name; the names of student’s parents or other family members
- Student’s address
- A personal identifier such as a social security number or student ID number
- A list of personal characteristics, or other information which would make a student’s identity easily traceable.
Education records include handwritten, printed, taped, filmed, microfilmed, on microfiche, or any form of electronically stored data.
Categories of student information which FERPA excludes from identification as education records include:
- Sole possession records
- Records maintained by a law enforcement/security unit for law enforcement purposes
- Student employment records other than employment records for positions that are included in a student’s financial aid package
- Medical, pastoral counseling, counseling center and mental health records
- Information gathered on individuals who are no longer in attendance (alumni surveys/achievements).
What information does FERPA say Clarke can release?
Certain information from a student’s education record can be designated by the institution as Directory Information and may be released. Directory Information is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. An item of Directory Information may be disclosed by Clarke University for any purpose, without the prior consent of a student, unless the student has limited or forbidden its disclosure in writing.
Clarke has designated the following as Directory Information:
- Full name
- Campus mailing address
- Email address
- Home address, city and state
- Telephone number
- Date of birth
- Academic program
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Height/weight of members of athletic teams
- Dates of attendance, including current classification and year, matriculation and withdrawal dates
- Expected graduation date
- Degrees, honors and awards received
- Schedule of courses
- Parent/guardian or other family member’s name and city/state of residence
- Most recent previous educational institution attended
- Full or part-time status
A student may limit or forbid disclosure of Directory Information by filing a Non-Disclosure Order available in the Registrar’s Office. This Non-Disclosure Order must be filed annually on or before the add/cancel date for the fall term. Students entering in terms other than the fall term must file a Non-Disclosure Order by the add/cancel date for the term in which they enter Clarke and each fall thereafter. If a student leaves Clarke with a Non-Disclosure Order in force, the order remains in force until a student withdraws it in writing. Students who enroll in terms other than the regular fall semester will be given FERPA notification and will need to file a Non-Disclosure Order by the add/cancel date for the term in which they are enrolling. Thereafter, as long as a student remains enrolled, annual notification will happen in the fall.
Clarke University is required under the provisions of the Solomon Amendment to provide directory-type information on students who are at least 17 years of age to representatives of the Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes upon request. This information includes: student name, addresses, telephone listings, date and place of birth, level of education, degrees received, prior military experience and the most recent previous educational institutions enrolled in. If any of this information is not collected by Clarke University, the university is not required to collect it in order to provide it to military recruiters. Clarke University is not required to disclose your directory information to military recruiters if you have filed a Non-Disclosure Order prior to their request for information.
Who else can have access to a student’s education records under FERPA?
With the exception of information in a student’s record designated by the university as Directory Information, education records cannot be disclosed to anyone other than the student, a school official, and certain other persons or agencies specifically identified by the law.
A student’s education record may be disclosed without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests. Any school official who needs to review the student’s record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility is considered to have a legitimate educational interest. School officials under FERPA include administrators, supervisors, faculty and academic staff, research or support staff (including security staff and health staff); a person or company with whom the university has contracted (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 employed in or voluntarily assisting another school official in performing his/her tasks.
A student’s education record may be disclosed without consent of or prior notification to the student to:
- Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General, Attorney General, Secretary of Education, and state and local education authorities
- To schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll
- In connection with financial aid
- To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies or institutions
- To parents of a dependent student if the parent can prove that he/she claimed the student on his/her most recent tax return
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; and 7)if there is a health/safety emergency.
Clarke requires a dated, signed, written release from a dependent student prior to releasing that student’s education records to his/her parents.
What responsibilities does Clarke have under FERPA?
- Clarke is required to notify students annually of their rights under FERPA and Clarke’s intent to protect their rights to inspect, review, and submit a request to amend their records.
- Clarke is required to protect students’ rights to limit disclosure of certain personally identifiable information, called Directory Information, contained in their education records. All other information contained in a student’s education records can’t be released except as described earlier in this document.
- Clarke is required to ensure that third parties do not redisclose personally identifiable information, except if a)the disclosure is made pursuant to a court order or to lawfully issued subpoenas; b)the disclosure contains only Directory Information and a Non-Disclosure Order has not been filed; or c)the disclosure is to the student.
- Clarke is required to keep records of requests for and disclosures of student education records.
What happens if Clarke doesn’t comply with FERPA?
The Department of Education may issue a notice to cease the practice complained of and could ultimately withhold funds administered by the Secretary of Education, such as federal financial aid dollars and federal grants.
Who on campus is responsible for FERPA compliance?
Because education records are maintained in many different forms all over the campus, the responsibility of ensuring FERPA compliance is a campus-wide responsibility. However, the Registrar will act as office where FERPA is administered. If there are questions, please feel free to contact that office at (563)588-6392.