The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended, is a Federal law which states (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Disclosure of Education Records
Lebanon Valley College accords all the rights under the law to students considered to be in attendance. FERPA states, “When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student.” Since access to student information begins with registration, LVC considers any student who is registered for courses at the College to be in attendance. With certain exceptions permitted under the Act, no one outside the institution shall have access to nor will the institution disclose any information from students’ education records without the written consent of students. The Act permits the College to disclose information to the following without a student’s consent:
- school officials with a legitimate educational interest. A school official is deemed to have a legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for that official to (a) perform appropriate tasks that are specified in their position description or by a contract agreement; (b) perform a task related to a student’s education; (c) perform a task related to the discipline of a student; or (d) provide a service or benefit to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid. LVC considers individuals meeting the following criteria to be school officials:
- a person employed by the institution in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, support staff, or student assistant position;
- a person serving on an institutional governing body or committee, including student representatives;
- a person employed by, or under contract to, the institution to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor;
- a person or organization acting as an official agent of the institution, and performing a business function or service on behalf of the institution;
- officials of another school in which the student seeks to enroll or where the student is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer;
- certain federal, state, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state or federally supported educational programs or for the enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements that relate to those programs;
- anyone providing financial aid to the student, if the information is necessary for such purposes as to determine eligibility for the aid, amount of the aid, conditions for the aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid;
- agents acting on behalf of Lebanon Valley College (clearinghouses, degree/enrollment verifiers);
- organizations conducting studies on behalf of Lebanon Valley College to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; administer student aid programs; or to improve instruction;
- accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions;
- parents/legal guardians of a student, who is under the age 21, that violates any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of LVC governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if LVC determines that the student committed a disciplinary violation;
- appropriate parties in order to comply with a judicial order or subpoena only if LVC makes a reasonable effort to notify the parent or eligible student of the order or subpoena in advance so that they may seek protective action. If LVC initiates legal action against a parent or student (or if the parent or student initiates legal action against LVC), LVC may disclose to the court, without a court order or subpoena, the education records of the student that are relevant LVC to proceed with the legal action as plaintiff.
- appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency;
- a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense;
- to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for purposes of the Student Exchange Visitor Information System;
- to military recruiters who request “Student Recruiting Information.” Student recruiting information is defined as name, address, telephone listing, age, level of education, and major;
- to the Internal Revenue Service in compliance with the Taxpayer Relief Act;
- to the Department of Veterans Affairs;
- appropriate parties if the disclosure concerns sex offenders and other individuals required to register under section 170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994; and
- state and local officials or authorities to whom this information is specifically allowed to be disclosed pursuant to State statute adopted before November 19, 1974, if the allowed reporting or disclosure concerns the juvenile justice system and the system’s ability to effectively serve the student whose records are released.
At its discretion the institution may provide Directory Information to any individual without prior written consent of the student in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, address, e-mail address, photographs, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, academic and graduation honors, the most previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams.
Rights to Limit Disclosure of Education Records
Requests for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for the entire academic career and may be changed upon written notification at the discretion of the student, at which time any prior requests will become null and void. Authorization to withhold Directory Information must be filed in the Office of the Registrar.
Right to Inspect and Review Education Records
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decision of the hearing panel is unacceptable. The Registrar at Lebanon Valley College has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files, and academic, cooperative education, and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written request to the Registrar listing the item or items of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions which include, a copy of the academic records for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere. These copies would be made at the students’ expense at prevailing rates. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, student health record, employment records or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the students’ choosing.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.
Right to Request an Amendment to Education Records
A student who believes that their education record contains information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss the problem informally with the Office of the Registrar. If the Registrar’s decision is in agreement with the student’s request, the appropriate record(s) will be amended. If not, the student will be informed by the Office of the Registrar of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such a request, will inform a 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 their choice, including attorneys, at the student’s expense. The hearing panel, which will adjudicate such a challenge, will be composed of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, if applicable.
The decision of the hearing panel will be final; will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Right to File a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education
Students have 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, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
A complaint must contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the requirements of FERPA has occurred and be submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and institution’s policy warrants.
—October 1992 (Revised October 2013)