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FERPA—Student Rights

General FERPA Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Guidance for Eligible Students

FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office (Office) in the U.S. Department of Education (Department). 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. FERPA applies to all educational agencies and institutions (e.g., schools) that receive funding under any program administered by the Department.

Once a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an "eligible student," and all rights formerly given to parents under FERPA transfer to the student. The eligible student has the right to have access to his or her education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, the right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records (except in certain circumstances specified in the FERPA regulations, some of which are discussed below), and the right to file a complaint with the Department.

FERPA generally prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from education records. Thus, information that an official obtained through personal knowledge or observation, or has heard orally from others, is not protected under FERPA. This remains applicable even if education records exist which contain that information, unless the official had an official role in making a determination that generated a protected education record.

Under FERPA, a school is not generally required to maintain particular education records or education records that contain specific information. Rather, a school is required to provide certain privacy protections for those education records that it does maintain. Also, unless there is an outstanding request by an eligible student to inspect and review education records, FERPA permits the school to destroy such records without notice to the student. For more information please view the website at the link below or click to open the 34 CFR part 99.

General FERPA Guide:

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html

FERPA Regulations by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf


Definition and Terms

Student: A student is a person who has been admitted and is registered when classes are in session, regardless of the person's age.

School Official: someone employed by Covenant School of Nursing in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, internship, volunteer or support staff position; or a person employed by or under contract to the University to perform a special task, such as an attorney, auditor or collection agency.

Legitimate Educational Interest: An individual must demonstrate a need to know by those officials of an institution who act in the student's educational interest, including faculty, administration, student employees, clerical and professional employees, and other persons who manage student records information. Any school official who needs information about a student in the course of performing instructional, supervisory, advisory, or administrative duties for Covenant School of Nursing has a legitimate educational interest.

Education Record: Any record maintained by Covenant School of Nursing that is personally identifiable to a student in any way except in a few very specifically defined circumstances. These specific circumstances are included within this section of the handbook or in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations.

Directory Information: Directory information is considered to be public information unless you request that it be kept confidential. Directory Information includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Dates of Attendance

Access and Amendment to Education Records

Access to Education Records

Under FERPA, a school must provide an eligible student with an opportunity to inspect and review his or her education records within 45 days following its receipt of a request. A school is required to provide an eligible student with copies of education records, or make other arrangements, if a failure to do so would effectively prevent the student from obtaining access to the records. A case in point would be a situation in which the student does not live within commuting distance of the school.

Under FERPA, a school is not required to provide information that is not maintained or to create education records in response to an eligible student's request. Accordingly, a school is not required to provide an eligible student with updates on his or her progress in a course (including grade reports) or in school unless such information already exists in the form of an education record.

Amendment of Education Records

Under FERPA, an eligible student has the right to request that inaccurate or misleading information in his or her education records be amended. While a school is not required to amend education records in accordance with an eligible student's request, the school is required to consider the request. If the school decides not to amend a record in accordance with an eligible student's request, the school must inform the student of his or her right to a hearing on the matter. If, as a result of the hearing, the school still decides not to amend the record, the eligible student has the right to insert a statement in the record setting forth his or her views. That statement must remain with the contested part of the eligible student's record for as long as the record is maintained.

However, while the FERPA amendment procedure may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded, it may not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or a substantive decision made by a school about an eligible student. FERPA was intended to require only that schools conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations. Thus, while FERPA affords eligible students the right to seek to amend education records which contain inaccurate information, this right cannot be used to challenge a grade or an individual's opinion, or a substantive decision made by a school about a student. Additionally, if FERPA's amendment procedures are not applicable to an eligible student's request for amendment of education records, the school is not required under FERPA to hold a hearing on the matter.


Disclosure of Education Records

Disclosure of Education Records

Under FERPA, a school may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student's education records to a third party unless the eligible student has provided written consent. However, there are a number of exceptions to FERPA's prohibition against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records. Under these exceptions, schools are permitted to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent, though they are not required to do so. Following is general information regarding some of these exceptions.

Exceptions

One of the exceptions to the prior written consent requirement in FERPA allows school officials within the school to obtain access to personally identifiable information contained in education records provided the school has determined that they have "legitimate educational interest" in the information.

FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied, or which the student has received, if the information is necessary for such purposes as to: determine the eligibility for the aid; determine the amount of the aid; determine the conditions for the aid; and/or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid. With respect to this exception, the term "financial aid" means payment of funds provided to an individual (or payment in kind of tangible or intangible property to the individual) that is conditioned on the individual's attendance at a school.

Postsecondary institutions may also disclose personally identifiable information from education records, without consent, to appropriate parties, including parents of an eligible student, in connection with a health or safety emergency. Under this provision, colleges and universities may notify parents when there is a health or safety emergency involving their son or daughter, even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent.

FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is to the parents of a student at a postsecondary institution regarding the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. The school may non-consensually disclose information under this exception if the school determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and the student is under 21 years of age at the time of the disclosure to the parent.

Another exception permits a school to non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education records when such information has been appropriately designated as directory information. A school may disclose directory information without consent if it has given public notice of the types of information it has designated as directory information, the eligible student's right to restrict the disclosure of such information, and the period of time within which an eligible student has to notify the school that he or she does not want any or all of those types of information designated as directory information.

There are several other exceptions to FERPA's prohibition against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, some of which are briefly mentioned below. Under certain conditions (specified in the FERPA regulations), a school may non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from education records:

  • to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Education, and State and local educational authorities for audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs;
  • to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the school making the disclosure for the purposes of administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, or improving instruction;
  • to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena;
  • to the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense concerning the final results of a disciplinary hearing with respect to the alleged crime; and
  • to any third party the final results of a disciplinary proceeding related to a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense if the student who is the alleged perpetrator is found to have violated the school's rules or policies. The disclosure of the final results only includes: the name of the alleged perpetrator, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed against the alleged perpetrator. The disclosure must not include the name of any other student, including a victim or witness, without the written consent of that other student.

As stated above, conditions specified in the FERPA regulations at 34 CFR § 99. 31 have to be met before a school may non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from education records in connection with any of the exceptions mentioned above.


Law Enforcement Units and Law Enforcement Unit Records

A "law enforcement unit" means any individual, office, department, division or other component of a school, such as a unit of commissioned police officers or non-commissioned security guards, that is officially authorized or designated by the school to: enforce any local, State, or Federal law, or refer to appropriate authorities a matter for enforcement of any law against any individual or organization; or to maintain the physical security and safety of the school. The law enforcement unit does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit if it also performs other, non-law enforcement functions for the school, including investigation of incidents or conduct that constitutes or leads to a disciplinary proceeding against a student.

"Law enforcement unit records" (i.e., records created by the law enforcement unit, created for a law enforcement purpose, and maintained by the law enforcement unit) are not "education records" subject to the privacy protections of FERPA. As such, the law enforcement unit may refuse to provide an eligible student with an opportunity to inspect and review law enforcement unit records, and it may disclose law enforcement unit records to third parties without the eligible student's prior written consent. However, education records, or personally identifiable information from education records, which the school shares with the law enforcement unit do not lose their protected status as education records because they are shared with the law enforcement unit.


Annual Notification of Rights under FERPA

Covenant School of Nursing complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to afford eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. (An "eligible student" under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.) These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days after the day the [Name of postsecondary institution ("School")] receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The school official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the school official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA.

A student who wishes to ask the school to amend a record should write the school official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

If the school decides not to amend the record as requested, the school will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student's right to a hearing re­garding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

  1. The right to provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without con­sent.

The school discloses education records without a student's prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by Covenant School of Nursing in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law en­forcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance com­mittee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of Covenant School of Nursing who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist 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 responsibilities for Covenant School of Nursing.

  1. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Covenant School of Nursing 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, SW

Washington, DC 20202

Directory Information: Directory information is considered to be public information unless you request that it be kept confidential. Students may opt to not include their information with the Directory Info on the Letter of Agreement signed at orientation. Directory Information includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Dates of Attendance

Students may request to change his/her status through the Business Office Coordinator at 806-725-8901 (must present a copy of your new Social Security Card).

Disclosure of Information without Student Consent

FERPA permits the disclosure of PII from students' education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations. Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, §99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the institution to record the disclosure. Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures. A postsecondary institution may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student –

  • To other school officials, including teachers, within Covenant School of Nursing whom the school has determined to have legitimate educational interests. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) - (a)(1)(i)(B)(2) are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
  • To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of §99.34. (§99.31(a)(2))
  • To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university's State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf. (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
  • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid. (§99.31(a)(4))
  • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction. (§99.31(a)(6))
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions. ((§99.31(a)(7))
  • To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes. (§99.31(a)(8))
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. (§99.31(a)(9))
  • To appropriate parties, including parents, in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to §99.36. (§99.31(a)(10))
  • Information the school has designated as "directory information" under §99.37. (§99.31(a)(11))
  • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39. The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding. (§99.31(a)(13))
  • To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school's rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
  • To parents of a student regarding the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))

Complaints of Alleged Failures to Comply with FERPA

Complaint Regarding Access

If an eligible student believes that a school has failed to comply with his or her request for access to education records, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: the date of the request for access to the education records; the name of the school official to whom the request was made (a dated copy of any written request to the school should be provided, if possible); the response of the school official, if any; and the specific nature of the information requested.

Complaint Regarding Amendment

If an eligible student believes that a school has failed to comply with his or her request for amendment of inaccurate information in education records or failed to offer the student an opportunity for a hearing on the matter, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: the date of the request for amendment of the education records; the name of the school official to whom the request was made (a dated copy of any written request to the school should be provided, if possible); the response of the school official, if any; the specific nature of the inaccurate information for which amendment was requested; and evidence provided to the school to support the assertion that such information is inaccurate.

Complaint Regarding Disclosure

If an eligible student believes that a school has improperly disclosed personally identifiable information from his or her education records to a third party, the student may complete a FERPA complaint form and should include the following specific information: the date or approximate date the alleged disclosure occurred or the date the student learned of the disclosure; the name of the school official who made the disclosure, if that is known; the third party to whom the disclosure was made; and the specific nature of the education records disclosed.

This guidance document is designed to provide eligible students with some general information regarding FERPA and their rights, and to address some of the basic questions most frequently asked by eligible students. You can review the FERPA regulations, frequently asked questions, significant opinions of the Office, and other information regarding FERPA at our Website as follows:

www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html

If, after reading this guidance document, you have questions regarding FERPA which are not addressed here, you may write to the Office at the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue
SW Washington, DC 20202-8520
Addition: April 2012