The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
Date of Current Revision: May 2002
Responsible Office: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
The purpose of this policy is to outline the university's compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA - 20 USC 1232g et. seq; implementing regulations 34 CFR Part 99.) is a federal law that states that an educational institution must establish a written institutional policy concerning the confidentiality of student education records and the fact that students must be notified of this statement of policy and their rights under the legislation.
The president has given the Vice President for Academic Affairs the responsibility and the authority to ensure that the university is in compliance with all aspects of the FERPA. Law.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or a party acting for the institution. The term "education record" does not include the following: a. Records of an instructional, supervisory, administrative, and educational nature, maintained by university officials for their personal use only. b. Student employee records. c. Alumni records. d. Student health, psychiatric, and counseling records maintained in connection with the treatment of the students.
University employees with general or specific responsibility for promoting the educational objectives of the university. Employees whose responsibilities place them within this category include: teachers; faculty advisors; admissions counselors; academic advisors; counselors; employment placement personnel; deans, department heads, directors, and other administrative officials responsible for some part of the academic enterprise or one of the supporting activities; administrative and faculty sponsors of officially recognized clubs, organizations, etc; members, including students and alumni, of official university committees, and clerical personnel employed to assist university officials in discharging professional responsibilities.
Legitimate educational interests:
Those interests that are essential to the general process of higher education prescribed by the body of policy adopted by the governing board. Legitimate educational interests would include teaching, research, public service, and such directly supportive activities as academic advising, general counseling, therapeutic counseling, discipline, vocational counseling and job placement, financial assistance and advisement, medical services, and academic assistance activities. In addition, the university officially recognizes appropriate co-curricular activities that are generally supportive of overall goals of the institution and contribute to the general well being of the entire student body and specifically to many individuals who participate in these activities. These activities include varsity and intramural sports, social fraternities, specific interest clubs, and student government.
This information includes: name, addresses, telephone numbers; date and place of birth; major and minor fields of study, college of major and year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), enrollment status (full-time/part-time) including credit hours, dates of attendance, degree sought and time, degrees conferred, awards and honors conferred, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, height and weight of members of athletic teams; the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, fraternity and/or sorority and educational societies.
Personally Identifiable Information:
Data or information which include 1) the name of the student, the student's parent(s), 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 identify easily traceable.
This policy applies to all employees, students and constituents of the university.
In accordance with the Act, students at James Madison University have the following rights:
- The right to inspect and review education records covered by the Act.
- The right to challenge (seek correction of) the contents of these records.
- The right to a formal hearing, if necessary, for a fair consideration of such a challenge.
- The right to place an explanatory note in the record in the event that a challenge of contents is unsuccessful.
- 5. The right to control, with certain exceptions, the disclosure of the contents of the records.
- The right to be informed of the existence and availability of the institutional policy covering FERPA rights.
- The right to report violations of FERPA legislation to the Department of Education.
James Madison University is not required to permit access to the following types of information:
General health data, information that is used by the university in making a decision regarding the student's status, is subject to review by the student under this policy.
- Financial information submitted by parents.
- Confidential letters of recommendation submitted prior to January 1, 1975.
- Confidential letters and recommendations on which a student has waived the right of inspection.
- Any part of a record pertaining to another student.
- Information specifically excluded under the Act's definition of "education records"
- Records of an instructional, supervisory, administrative, and educational nature, maintained by university officials for their personal use only.
- Student employee records.
- Alumni records.
- Student health, psychiatric, and counseling records maintained in connection with the treatment of the students.
Written medical, psychiatric, and psychological case notes which form the basis for diagnosis or for recommendation of treatment plans remain privileged information not accessible to the student. (Such case notes are not considered to be part of the university's official education records. These records may be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choosing.)
6.1 Students who wish to inspect and review their education records may do so by submitting a written request to the official responsible for the specific record desired. The responsible official must respond within 45 days of the request by sending the student a copy of the requested record or arranging an appointment for the student to review the requested data.
6.2 Copies of education records or record entries, with certain exceptions, may be obtained by the student at the cost of $.15 per page. Copies of a student's permanent academic record (transcript) will be provided at no charge. The university reserves the right to deny a copy of an education record for which a financial "hold" exists, or for a transcript of an original source document which exists elsewhere.
6.3 James Madison University will not permit access to or release of any personally identifiable information without the written consent of the student except in the following circumstances:
6.4 CHALLENGING THE CONTENTS OF AN EDUCATION RECORD
- A student's education records may be released without consent to officials within the university having a "legitimate educational interest" in such information. Access by these officials is restricted where practical only to students for whom they have professional responsibility and only to that portion of the student record necessary for the discharge of assigned duties.
- At its discretion the university may provide "directory information" concerning an individual student in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Directory information may be released upon request unless a student specifically requests in writing that this information not be released. This request must be submitted in writing to the Office of the Registrar within five days of the first day of classes of each school year.
- The university may also release personally identifiable information contained in a student's record to:
- Officials of other institutions in which a student seeks to enroll.
- To government officials in connection with the audit and evaluation of federal and state-supported education programs.
- To persons and organizations providing student financial aid.
- To persons or organizations conducting research for the development of tests, administration of financial aid, or the improvement of instruction.
- To accrediting agencies.
- To parents of dependent students as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
- To persons in an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of the student or of others.
- To persons in compliance with a judicial order or subpoena.
Students may challenge the contents of an education record which they consider to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights. Students may initiate a challenge by submitting a written request to the custodian of the particular record in question who shall attempt to resolve the problem through informal discussions. If a challenge to a record is not satisfactorily resolved by this procedure, students will be informed of their right to a formal hearing, the procedures to be followed concerning such a hearing, and its composition. Students requesting a hearing will be notified in writing of the date, place, and time of their hearing. At the hearing, students may present evidence in support of their request and may be assisted by an advisor or attorney.
Decisions of the hearing panel are final. If decisions of the hearing board are unsatisfactory to students, they may place in the education records their own statement commenting on the information contained in the record and setting forth any reason for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel.
Students may waive any of their FERPA rights including the release of their education records by providing written consent. Such consent must be signed and dated by the student and specify the exact purpose of the waiver or release.
6.5 Students have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning alleged failures of the university to comply with the requirements of the Act.
The university offices maintaining education records shall keep a record of all parties requesting or obtaining access to the contents of student records (except in case of requests by students for access to their own record; by school officials; by parties with specific written consent of the student; or by parties requesting directory information). This record of requests must identify the legitimate interest the person(s) had in seeking or obtaining information contained in a record and may be available for inspection by the student identified by the record.
James Madison University maintains the following "education records" as defined by the Act and responsibility for them as listed below.
||Office of the Registrar
||Warren Hall 504A
||Office of the Registrar
||Warren Hall 504A
||Student Life-Judicial Affairs
||Director of Judicial Affairs
||Financial Aid & Scholarships
||Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships
||Warren Hall 504B
||Student Financial Services
||Director of Financial Services
||Warren Hall 302
||Academic Advising & Career Development
||Director of Academic Advising & Career Development
||Wilson Hall 301
||College of Graduate & Professional Studies
||Dean of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies
||The Grace Street House
||Director of Public Safety
Sanctions will be commensurate with the severity and/or frequency of the offense and may include termination of employment.
The authority to interpret this policy rests with the President, and is generally delegated to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and University Registrar.
Original Version: April 1, 1996
Linwood H. Rose, President
Index of Terms