STUDENT RECORDS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
The College complies with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA provides students with the following rights with respect to their education records:
- The right to inspect and review student education records
- The right to request the amendment of student education records
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the TATC to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
At the time of enrollment, students will be provided the Student Records – FERPA Disclosure form for their information. The student’s signature is required acknowledging their understanding of their rights with respect to their education records.
The College’s FERPA Policy and information on FERPA is available online, a full copy of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is posted on the College Information board, and a paper copy is available upon request.
Please scroll through this page to learn more information on FERPA.
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, is a federal law that sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records. FERPA governs the release of records maintained by an educational institution and access to those records. Institutions that receive funds administered by the Federal Office of Education are bound by FERPA requirements and failure to comply may result in the loss of federal funding.
What are education records?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency, institution, or party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including, but not limited to, typewritten, hand-written, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and email.
Education records do not include:
- Sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record. This may include notes an instructor makes while providing career or professional guidance to a student.
- Medical treatment records that include, but are not limited to, records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
- Employment records unless employment is based on student status, i.e. a graduate teaching assistant or work-study student.
- Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit.
- Post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) and not related to the person as a student.
Access to Student Records
The Tooele Applied Technology College (TATC) may not disclose information contained in education records without the student’s consent, except under certain limited conditions. For example, the TATC may disclose what is considered to be “directory” information unless the student has restricted disclosure of such information with the Student Services Department.
Directory information at the Tooele Applied Technology College is defined as:
- Student’s Name
- Field of study
- Dates of attendance
- Credentials received
If the student has restricted the disclosure of directory information, a privacy restriction will appear on the student’s academic records.
In addition, the College can release information to a school official if it can be determined that the individual has a legitimate educational interest. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative or faculty position, or a staff member in a professional or support position who is involved in work that requires disclosure of this information; a person or company with whom the TATC has contracted (such as an attorney or auditor) working on a project for the TATC that requires disclosure of this information; the President of the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT); or staff of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education who are working on a project that requires disclosure of this information. Upon request, the College may disclose education records without consent to an official at another school, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
Assignments and papers that contain “personally identifiable” information should not be distributed to the student in a way that would allow other students to view the information. Graded papers should not be left unattended in an office or classroom for students to sort through or returned to students via another student. Both of these examples are a violation of FERPA. A possible solution would be to leave the exams, quizzes, etc. with an assistant or secretary who requests proper identification prior to distributing the information to the student.
Parents Requesting Information
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a post-secondary institution, FERPA rights transfer to the student. Concerns such as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that constitute part of the student’s education record. This information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access unless (1) the student provides written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s), (2) the parent(s) establish that the student is a dependent according to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Section 152 or (3) the student is a secondary student enrolled in a high school program and also enrolled in a TATC program or course for the purpose of receiving high school credit for TATC coursework.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency. Requests of this nature should be directed to the Student Services Department or to the Office of the President, 435-248-1800.
Letters of Recommendation
Written permission from the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the “education record” (courses taken, grades, GPA and other non-directory information). The signed release must specify the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure and the party to whom the disclosure can be made. If the letter of recommendation is kept on file by the person writing the recommendation, then it becomes part of the student’s education record and the student has the right to read it unless he/she has specifically waived that right of access. The only time a written release from the student is not required is if the recommendation will be based solely upon personal acquaintance/observation with the student and the letter will not contain any information derived from educational records concerning the student’s participation, performance or academic achievement in school.
Definitions Related to FERPA
Refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Also known as the Buckley Amendment. Enacted as Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 United States Code, 1232g). This federal law is designed to protect the privacy of student education records.
A person or business formally authorized to act on another’s behalf.
Includes, but is not limited to, attendance, in person or by correspondence study (program) and the period during which a person is working under a work-study program.
DATES OF ATTENDANCE:
The period of time during which a student attends or attended an education agency or institution. Examples include a specific period of time, an academic year, a spring semester, or a first quarter. The term does not include specific daily records or a student’s attendance pattern at the institution.
To permit access to, or the release, transfer, or other communication of, personally identifiable information contained in education records to any party, by any means, including oral, written, or electronic.
Information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student’s name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (i.e., undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards received, and most recent education agency or institution attended.
NOTE: Items that can never be identified as directory information are a student’s social security number, student id number, citizenship, gender, religious preference, grades, and GPA.
EDUCATION INSTITUTION (OR AGENCY):
Generally means any public or private agency or institution of post-secondary education that receives funds from any federal program under the administrative responsibility of the Secretary of Education. The term refers to the institution as a whole, including all of its components, i.e., schools and departments within the TATC or governing boards that provide administrative control or direction of the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) system.
Those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. The term “education records” does not include the following:
- Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel;
- Law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit;
- Employment records relating to individuals in attendance at an institution who are also employed by the institution as a result of their status as a student, i.e. work-study, graduate assistants;
- 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 which contain only information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student at the institution, i.e., alumni records.
Any individual who meets the minimum requirements for the program or course in which the individual enrolls.
Refers to a student who has satisfied all of the institutional requirements for attendance at the institution. The Family Policy Compliance Office has stated that each institution may determine when a student is “in attendance” in accordance with its own enrollment procedures (Federal Register, July 6, 2000, p.41856). At the Tooele Applied Technology College, a student is considered “enrolled” after he or she registers for one or more College classes.
FAMILY POLICY COMPLIANCE OFFICE:
The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education, K-12 and post-secondary.
INSTITUTION OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION:
An institution that provides education to students beyond the secondary school level. “Secondary school level” means the educational level (not beyond grade 12) at which secondary education is provided.
LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT:
Any individual or other component of an institution, including commissioned police officers and noncommissioned security guards, officially authorized by the institution to enforce any local, state, or federal law and to maintain the physical security and safety of the institution.
LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT RECORDS:
Those records, files, documents, and other materials that are (1) created by a law enforcement unit, (2) created for a law enforcement purpose, and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit.
LEGITIMATE EDUCATIONAL INTEREST:
A demonstrated “need to know” by officials of an institution who act in the student’s educational interest, including faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees, and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student record information. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if that official is performing a task that is specified in his/her position description, by a contract agreement, or is related to a student’s education or to the discipline of a student. The official may also be providing a service or benefit to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.
Includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.
Data or information which include (1) the name of the student, the student’s parent, or other family members; (2) the student’s address; (3) a personal identifier such as a social security number or student number; or (4) a list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student’s identity easily traceable.
Any information or data recorded in any medium, including handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, or any form of electronic data storage.
Those members of an institution who act in the student’s educational interest within the limitations of their “need to know.” These may include faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student education record information.
SOLE POSSESSION RECORDS:
Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker and used only as a personal memory aid. Sole possession records are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
Any individual for whom an education institution maintains education records. The term does not include an individual who has never attended the institution.
A command from a court to require the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony or evidence. There are two main types of subpoenas: “duces tecum” which requires the production of documents, papers, or other tangibles and “ad testificandum” which requires a person to testify in a particular court case.
Who to Contact with Questions or Concerns
Any questions concerning FERPA may be directed to:
The Student Services Department, 435-248-1800, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of Compliance, 1-202-260-3887, Family Policy Compliance Office,
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605