Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The following excerpt is from Oklahoma Christian University's Student Handbook:
OC complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student's educational records. The law applies to all schools which receive funds under any program of the U.S. Department of Education. Students can request a complete copy of FERPA regulations from the Office of Student Life. FERPA affords students (former and current students) certain rights with respect to their “educational records.” Those include:
Students have the right to inspect and review all school maintained educational records within 45 days of the University’s receiving such request. All student records are kept in the Office of the Registrar, except financial records (kept in the Business Office) and student conduct records (kept in the Office of Student Life). The student should submit to the Registrar, Dean of Students, Controller, or other appropriate university official a written request that identifies the requested record(s). If the university official who received the request does not maintain the record(s), that official shall advise the student of the correct office. The university official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The University is not required to provide copies of materials in educational records unless it is impractical or impossible for the student to inspect the record(s). The University shall charge a fee for copies which shall be $0.10 per copy.
Students have the right to request that the University correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. The student should write the university official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record he or she wants changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record, the student is notified and advised of the right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. After the hearing, if the University still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement with the record commenting on the contested information in the record.
The University must have written permission from a student before releasing any information from the student's record. However, FERPA allows the University to disclose records, without consent, to the following parties: (NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list.)
- University officials with legitimate educational interest
- Parents of students claimed as IRS dependents, upon proof of such status
- Other schools to which a student is transferring
- Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
- Organizations conducting certain studies, or providing services, for the University
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
- Accrediting organizations
- Individuals who have obtained court orders or judge signed subpoenas
- A parent or legal guardian regarding a student's violation of any law or institutional rule or policy concerning alcohol or drugs if the student is under 21 years old and the institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation
- Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law
OC considers a school official a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff), a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent or other service provider), a person serving on the Board of Trustees or a student serving on an official committee such as a disciplinary committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks.
Directory information is normally released without student consent. If a student does not wish such information to be made public, he or she can fill out a request form available in the Office of Student Life during the first two weeks of classes. Directory information is defined as: "information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed," including, but not limited to, "the student's name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors and awards received; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended."
Filing a Complaint
Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by OC to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
The FERPA office:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-4605