Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The following is a brief description of FERPA as provided by the Federal government:
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
- Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
- Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.
For additional information or technical assistance, you may call (202) 260-3887 (voice). Individuals who use TDD may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.
Or you may contact us at the following address:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920
Barry University considers the following information regarding every student to be directory information:
- address (including email address)
- telephone number
- honors and awards
- dates of attendance.
- if a student is an athlete, the university may also disclose height and weight.
The university uses the definition of “education record” used in FERPA. That is, “Education records are currently defined as records that are directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution. This includes academic records and student conduct files.
The following are excerpts copied from publications from the Department of Education which clearly define what is and what is not permissible under FERPA:
Health or Safety Emergency
In an emergency, FERPA permits school officials to disclose without student consent, education records, including personally identifiable information from those records, to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. At such times, records and information may be released to appropriate parties such as law enforcement officials, public health officials, and trained medical personnel. See 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(10) and § 99.36. This exception to FERPA’s general consent rule is limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable information from a student’s education records. In addition, the Department interprets FERPA to permit institutions to disclose information from education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
While disciplinary records are protected as education records under FERPA, there are certain circumstances in which disciplinary records may be disclosed without the student’s consent. A postsecondary institution may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of that crime, regardless of whether the institution concluded a violation was committed. An institution may disclose to anyone—not just the victim—the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense, and with respect to the allegation made against him or her, the student has committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies. See 34CFR§§99.31(a)(13) and (14).
In addition to the actions described above, The Clery Act requires, and FERPA permits, postsecondary institutions to inform the complainant of the institution’s final determination and any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the perpetrator in sexual violence cases (as opposed to all harassment and misconduct covered by Title IX) not just those sanctions that directly relate to the complainant. See 20 U.S.C.§1092(f) and 20 U.S.C.§1232g(b)(6)(A).
The Clery Act
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires postsecondary institutions to provide timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees and to make public their campus security policies. It also requires that crime data be collected, reported, and disseminated to the campus community and to the Department annually. The Clery Act is intended to provide students and their families with accurate, complete, and timely information about safety on campus so that they can make informed decisions. Such disclosures are permitted under FERPA. The following Web site provides more information about these and other provisions about campus safety: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead /safety/campus.html.
While an institution has flexibility in deciding how to carry out safety functions, it must also indicate in its policy or in information provided to students which office or school official serves as the college or University’s “law enforcement unit.” (The institution’s notification to students of their rights under FERPA can include this designation. As an example, the Department has posted a model notification on its Web site at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid /fpco/ferpa/ps-officials.html.)
Law enforcement unit officials who are employed by the college or university should be designated in the institution’s FERPA notification as “school officials” with a “legitimate educational interest.” As such, they may be given access to personally identifiable information from students’ education records. The institution’s law enforcement unit officials must protect the privacy of education records it receives and may disclose them only in compliance with FERPA. For that reason, it is advisable that law enforcement unit records be maintained separately from education records.
At Barry University, the Office of Public Safety is the department designated to carry out safety functions.
Disclosure to Parents
When a student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, all rights afforded to parents under FERPA transfer to the student. However, FERPA also provides ways in which schools may share information with parents without the student’s consent. For example:
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if the student is a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
- Schools may inform parents if the student who is under age 21 has violated any law or its policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Barry University will disclose information to parents in all of the above listed situations. To prove dependency for income tax purposes, the documentation must be provided to the Office of the Registrar.