The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the confidentiality of student education records. The term “educational records” under FERPA includes generally any record, whether in a printed handwritten, audio, video, or computer media format, maintained by J.F. Drake State Technical College and containing information directly related to a student in his/her role as a student. Certain records are, however, excluded by FERPA from this broad definition, such as those made by instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and kept in their sole possession, and those made by campus safety.
Under FERPA, a student has a right to access his/her records and may inspect and review the information contained in them. To exercise this right, the student should present a written request to the Admissions Office and a response will be made no later than 30 days from the date of the request. Some records are not within the right of review, such as financial information from the student’s parents and confidential letters or statements of recommendation where the student has waived the right of access.
A student who believes his/her education records contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his/her privacy rights, may bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate records official. If by informal discussion with this official the student does not obtain the corrective action desired, the student will be entitled to a hearing at which he/she may challenge the objectionable item. The decision of the hearing official or panel shall be final. If the decision is adverse to the student, he/she may insert in the education records an explanatory statement about the disputed item.
A student’s privacy interest in the education record is further protected by the rule against unauthorized disclosure. Generally, J.F. Drake State Technical College many not, without the student’s consent, release the education record or personally identifiable information in it to other individuals or entities.
Disclosure in certain circumstances, however, is specifically excepted by FERPA from the foregoing rule: These circumstances include disclosure to certain parties—J.F. Drake State Technical College personnel who have a legitimate educational interest in the information, officials of the institutions where the student is seeking to enroll, parties to which the student is applying for financial aid, the parent of a dependent student, etc.; disclosure to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; or disclosure in connection with a health or safety emergency. Under the first exception, J.F. Drake State Technical College DSTC) personnel includes any DSTC employee, and a “legitimate educational interest” means that the employee has a need for access to the record to perform appropriate tasks clearly within the area of responsibility of the employee, to perform a task related to the education or discipline of the student, or to provide a benefit or service relating to the student. Personally identifiable information will be transmitted by the college under these exceptions only upon the condition that the recipient does not permit any other party to have access to it without the student’s consent.
The college may also release what is called “directory information” without obtaining the student’s consent. Directory information is limited to the following: the student’s name, address, (local and permanent), telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, enrollment status (full-time or part-time), major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height statistics of athletic team members, dates of attendance, degrees and award/honors received, the previous educational institution most recently attended and a photograph of the student. However, a student may prevent the release of even this information, if he/she wishes, by so indicating on a form provided for this purpose in the Admissions Office. A request for nondisclosure of directory information remains in effect until the student submits a new disclosure form allowing the release of this information.
Any student who believes that his/her rights under FERPA have been violated by the college may notify and request assistance from the Dean of Instruction or the Director of Student Services Management. The student may also file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.