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Scenarios for Faculty and Staff

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or the Buckley Amendment, FERPA is a federal law that was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student educational records.

All institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA.


Example Scenarios

Instructor Smith has a legitimate educational “need to know” what grades his students received in a pre-requisite course. However, he does not have a “need to know” the students’ GPA

FERPA considers campus security officials as employees with a “legitimate educational interest” if they are designated as “university officials” and operating within the scope of their employment. The warrant would not be necessary. Such requests should be forwarded to the Registrar’s Office for processing.

No. You can offer to send someone to the student’s class to ask her to call home. You can contact Campus Police or Student Affairs to locate the student if necessary.

Unless the student has placed a confidentiality flag on his/her record, you can provide directory information (including major, degree and awards received). You can also provide personal observations you have of the student. However, without written consent from the student, you cannot relay any other information from the educational record, including grades, GPA, etc.

Unless the student has given written consent allowing his mother access to his records you cannot discuss specifies of her son’s situation. You can, however, discuss your grading philosophy in general terms, as presented on the course syllabus.

Yes, the advisor has a legitimate “needs to know”. However, you should remind the advisor not to share the information to the sorority members or anyone else.

Under routine circumstances, you cannot release course information to Mom since course enrollment information is not considered directory information. You could contact the faculty members on behalf of the mother to inquire about attendance. If it turns out that the student has recently not been attending class, it would then be advisable to contact campus police and let the mother know. In addition, if you or others have recently seen the student, you could communicate that information to the mother since “observations” are not information from an educational record.

FERPA permits disclosure of information from educational records to parents of student in a few different circumstance:

  • A health or safety emergency situation
  • When the student has been found in violation of conduct related to a controlled substance or alcohol and is under the age of 21
  • When the student is dependent based on the IRS definition of “dependency”
  • When you have written permission of the student

In this case, prior consent is required to release anything but directory information. However, if the student has not opted out of directory information, the school official could inform the parent that the student is not a student at the institution. You cannot tell the parents he was dismissed. Also, consider practical tips for talking with the parents. Find out what they already know and build from it. If appropriate, discuss use of the IRS dependency exception for providing access to their son’s record.

No. The only disclosure requirement that is a “must” under FERPA is to the student. All other disclosures, even with a student’s release form is a “may”. The decision to engage in dialog with a parent is up to the discretion of the faculty member or department personnel.

No. Without the student giving written consent, you may not disclose non-directory information from her educational record. FERPA requires explicit (not implied) consent.

No. Even though the student did not enroll at AUM and is, therefore, not protected under FERPA, FERPA prohibits institutions from re-disclosing an educational record received from another institution unless we have the student’s written consent.

FERPA allows release of information without consent to either parent if the student is claimed as a dependent on either parent’s most recent tax form. A tax return validating dependency must be filed with the Registrar prior to releasing the information. If the father cannot obtain a copy of the tax return he might need to resort to court action to obtain the educational records information.

No. Since the discussion is only accessible to student in the class, there is no FERPA violation. However, non-directory information should not be displayed on the site. The 2009 FERPA regulations specifically state that student usernames can be displayed to others in a class even if the student in question has chosen “no release” for their directory information.

It depends. If the comments and notes are recorded in BANNER or kept in a file that is accessible to even one other person they are considered an educational record and subject to FERPA protection. If the comments and notes are kept simply as “memory joggers” and not shared with even one other person they are considered “sole possession” documents and not part of the educational record. Since FERPA grants students the right to review and access their records, the notes that do not meet the “sole possession” criteria should be included in that review. Therefore, it is important that all written comments or notes be factual and objective and devoid of inappropriate value judgments or language.

No. Class enrollment is not considered directory information and therefore requires either written consent of every student in the class, or an official contract between the vendor and AUM containing FERPA specific clauses.

Yes. Specific course registrations and personally identifiable class materials from students are not directory information. Therefore, they should not be publically accessible. Additionally, there may be students who have chosen “no release” for their directory information displaying their information effectively disregards this request.

No. FERPA permits an amended record to be sent to the new institution without the the student’s consent as long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.

Alumni records created after the student is no longer enrolled as a student are not governed by FERPA and are, therefore, not considered, an educational record. However, without the alum’s written consent, only directory information can be released from educational records created when he was a student.

No. The parent’s email address is considered non-directory and, therefore, personally identifiable information on the student. Written student consent would be required from every student.

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