Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

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Introduction

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. §1232g, and the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code § 552.001 et seq., are respectively a federal and state law that provide students with the following rights with respect to their student educational records:

The University of Texas System and each University of Texas educational institution has implemented a student records policy pursuant to these laws.

Annual Notification

Students in attendance at each University of Texas educational institution will be notified annually of their rights pursuant to FERPA. This notice will be provided by the University of Texas educational institution in a manner reasonably likely to inform students of their rights and the procedures for exercising their rights. (Model Notification - Attachment 1)

Definitions

"Student" means an individual who is or who has been in attendance at a University of Texas System institution. It does not include persons who have been admitted but did not attend the UT institution. For the purposes of this policy "attendance" includes attendance in person or by correspondence (including electronic correspondence) and the period during which a person is working under a work-study program.

"Education Records" include records directly related to a student that are maintained by the University. Education records do not include:

"Directory Information" means information in a student's education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The University of Texas System institutions' policies will designate the following minimum information as directory information: student's name; local and permanent address; email address; telephone number; date and place of birth; field of study; dates of attendance; enrollment status; student classification; degrees, certificates and awards (including scholarships) received; photographs; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended.

"University official with a legitimate educational interest" is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has a contract or affiliation (such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent or clinical facility); a member of Board of Trustees; or a person assisting another university official in performing his or her tasks; who needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

Disclosure of Education Records

Disclosure without Prior Consent of the Student

The University will not disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education records without prior written consent of the student, except as authorized by FERPA. FERPA's authorizations for release without consent include the following:

Directory Information. Directory information (as defined above) may appear in public documents and may otherwise be disclosed without student consent unless a student submits a written request to the registrar during the first twelve (12) days of class of a fall or spring semester, the first four (4) class days of a summer semester, or the first three days of any quarter to withhold such information from disclosure. Requests to withhold directory information will be honored by the University for only the current enrollment period; therefore, a request to withhold Directory Information must be filed each semester or term in the Office of the Registrar.

University Officials. University officials with legitimate educational interests in the student's education records are allowed access to student education records. Inter-institutional disclosures may be made between institutions that administer or participate in joint programs or activities, in accordance with legitimate educational interest criteria. For example, if a student is concurrently enrolled in one institution of the University of Texas and in another institution, or in two institutions of the University, or receives services from one institution of the University and from another institution, or from two institutions of the University (or UT System), information from the student records of that individual may be disclosed by one University institution to the other, or by the University institution to the other institution, without obtaining the written consent of the student in accordance with legitimate educational interest criteria. This provision includes institutions participating in UT TeleCampus Programs.

Other Institutions. The University may release a student's education records to officials of other educational institutions in which that student seeks or intends to enroll or is enrolled.

Audit or Evaluation of Federal or State education programs. Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Education and state and local educational authorities may have access to student records in connection with the audit and evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or in connection with the enforcement of Federal law which relates to such programs.

Financial Aid. The University may release a student's education records to persons or organizations in connection with that student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid, but only to the extent necessary for such purposes as determining eligibility, amount, conditions, and enforcement of terms or conditions of such financial aid.

State and local officials pursuant to statute concerning juvenile justice. The University may release education records to state and local officials that are authorized by statute to access student education records to efficiently serve the student.

Organizations conducting studies. To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions for the purpose of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, and improving instruction, if such studies are conducted in a manner which will not permit the personal identification of students and/or their parents by individuals other than representatives of the organization, and the information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted. The term "organizations" includes, but is not limited to, Federal, State, and local agencies, and independent organizations.

Accrediting Organizations. To accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting functions.

Parents of Dependents. Parents of a student who is a dependent for federal tax purposes, as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, may have access to that student's education records without prior consent of the student. Parents may demonstrate the tax dependency of a student only by submitting to the University a copy of their most recently filed federal income tax return. Alternatively, a student may demonstrate tax dependency, and thus allow parental access to the student's records without prior consent of the student, by submitting to the University a signed statement of his or her tax dependency. If a dependent student's parents are divorced, both parents may have access to the student's records, so long as at least one parent claims the student as a dependent.

Judicial order or subpoena. Information concerning a student shall be released in response to a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. The University will make reasonable efforts to notify the student of an order or subpoena before complying with it, except that the University shall not notify a student of a subpoena if it is from a federal grand jury or is for law enforcement purposes, and it provides that the University shall not disclose to any person the existence or contents of the subpoena or any information furnished in response to the subpoena. Education records may be disclosed to the U. S. Attorney General or his or her designee in response to an ex parte order concerning an authorized investigation or prosecution of domestic or international terrorism, without prior notice to the student.

Health and Safety. The University may disclose student information to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of the student or others in the University community.

Disciplinary Hearing Results.

Disclosure to Victims: The University may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in Chapter 1, Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code), or a non-forcible sex offense, the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of such crime or offense with respect to such crime or offense, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator was found responsible for violating the University's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense.

Disclosure to Third Parties: The University may disclose the final results of any disciplinary proceeding against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (as those terms are defined in 34 C.F.R. 99.39), if the student is found responsible on or after October 7, 1998, for violating the University's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense. Such disclosure shall include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the University on that student. Such disclosure may include the name of any other student, such as a victim or witness, only with the written consent of that other student.

Alcohol and Drug Violations. The University may disclose to a parent or legal guardian of a student, information regarding any violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, regardless of whether that information is contained in the student's education records, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure to the parent, and the University determines that the student is responsible for a disciplinary violation with respect to such use or possession.

Disclosure to the Student

The student has the right, on request to the appropriate University official, to review all materials that are in the student's education records, except:

Student education records are maintained at several locations on campus. Principal locations are shown in Attachment 2. Requests for access to specific student records should be made to the university office or agency concerned with the particular record. The Chief Business Officers at The University of Texas System institutions have been designated as the official custodians of records. Requests for assistance in locating individual student records should be directed in writing to the particular custodian of records. Records covered by FERPA will be made available, within forty-five days of the request.

Students may have copies of their educational records and this policy. These copies will be made at the student's expense at rates authorized in the Texas Public Information Act except that official transcripts will be $__________. Official copies of academic records or transcripts will not be released for students who have a delinquent financial obligation or financial "hold" at the University.

Disclosure with Prior Consent of the Student

With the student's prior consent, the University will release personally identifiable student information in education records or allow access to those records. Such consent must be written, signed and dated, and must specify the records to be disclosed, the party to whom the records are to be disclosed, and the purpose of the disclosure.

Record of Disclosures

The University will maintain with the student's education records a record for each disclosure request and each disclosure, except disclosures:

Requests to Amend Records

A student who believes that his or her education records are inaccurate or misleading, or that the records violate his or her privacy rights, may informally discuss amendment of the record with the university office or agency concerned with the particular record. If agreement is reached with respect to the student's request, the appropriate records will be amended. [Note: The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student's work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of this right to seek amendment of education records.] If the record is not amended pursuant to the student's request, the university will inform the student of its decision and of the student's right to request a formal hearing.

The request must be made in writing to the Chief Business Officer at the University institution who within a reasonable period of time after receiving such request, will inform the student of the date, place, and time of the hearing. A student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearing by one or more persons of the student's choice, including attorneys, at the student's expense. The hearing officer that will adjudicate such challenges will be appointed by the president. The decision of the hearing officer will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of a written statement summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. If the decision is in favor of the student, the education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing officer. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records a statement commenting on the information in the records or a statement setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing officer, or both. The statement will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student's records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed. Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not is keeping with the provisions of the Act may request in writing, assistance from the President of the institution.

Complaints

Complaints regarding alleged violations of the rights accorded students by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be filed with the Family Policy and Regulations Office, US Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20203.

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Attachment 1

Model Notification of Rights under FERPA for Postsecondary Institutions

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights are:

The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Chief Business Officer written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The Chief Business Officer will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.

The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading. A student who believes that his or her education records are inaccurate or misleading, or that the records violate his or her privacy rights, may informally discuss amendment of the record with the university office or agency concerned with the particular record. If agreement is reached with respect to the student's request, the appropriate records will be amended. [Note: The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student's work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of this right to seek amendment of education records.] If the record is not amended pursuant to the student's request, the university will inform the student of its decision and of the student's right to request a formal hearing. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is defined as a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

The right to request that directory information not be disclosed to the public. "Directory Information" means information in a student's education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The University of Texas System institution's policies will designate the following minimum information as directory information: student's name; local and permanent address; email address; telephone number; date and place of birth; field of study; dates of attendance; enrollment status; student classification; degrees, certificates and awards (including scholarships) received; photographs; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended. Directory information may appear in public documents and may otherwise be disclosed without student consent unless a student submits a written request to the registrar during the first 12 days of class of a fall or spring semester, the first 4 class days of a summer semester, or the first three days of any quarter to withhold such information from disclosure. Requests to withhold directory information will be honored by the University for only the current enrollment period; therefore, a request to withhold Directory Information must be filed each semester or term in the Office of the Registrar.

The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605

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Attachment 2

A list of education records and those officials responsible for the records shall be maintained in the Office of the Chief Business Officer. This list includes:

A. Academic Records

Registrar's Office (Admissions/Registrar): Registrar
College, Division, Department and Faculty Offices

B. Student Services Records

Counseling Office: Director of Counseling
Student Activities Office: Director of Student Activities
Student Services: Dean of Student Services

C. Financial Records

Business Office: Chief Business Officer
Financial Aid Office: Director of Financial Aid

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Last Updated September 1, 2005