The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as the “Buckley Amendment”), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements.
Under federal law, students have the right to obtain access to their educational records and to prevent disclosure of records to third parties without authorization. In accordance with FERPA, Lafayette College will permit students to have access to specified records and will prevent release of records to third parties without personal authorization from the student except as noted in the regulations.
Lafayette College seeks to teach students to become mature, reasoned, educated adults capable of defining and realizing their academic and personal developmental goals. To that end, the College’s practice is to regard students as the primary contact for interaction regarding information contained in student educational records and to respect the confidentiality of that information. The College encourages students to act responsibly by communicating directly with their parents.
Under federal law, if College personnel determine that it is in the best interest of the student to disclose to a student’s parent(s) information from that student’s educational record, the College may elect to do so after receiving proof of the student’s financial dependency on his or her parent (s) for federal income tax purposes. In these rare cases, the College practice is to communicate first, when possible, with the student regarding a parental request for information.
Students who are not dependent on their parent (s) for federal income tax purposes, and students who are dependent but wish to provide their parent (s) general access to their educational record, may allow College personnel to share educational record information with their parent (s) by signing a waiver. Waivers can be found on the Registrar’s website or picked up in either the Office of the Registrar or the Dean of the College.
Students may also elect to have information from their educational record shared with graduate schools, potential employers, or other third parties by signing a release that can be found on the Registrar’s website or picked up in the office of the Registrar or the Dean of the College.
FERPA requires that the College provide notification annually to students of their rights under FERPA. The College provides this notification each semester through its publication of the Course Schedule that is distributed to all students. The annual notification includes the rights outlined below:
FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfiche and email, among others.
Education records do not include such things as sole possession records or notes, information obtained through personal knowledge that is not recorded, law enforcement records, employment records (when the student is also an employee), medical treatment records, or alumni records.
At Lafayette, the individuals or offices responsible for maintaining Education Records include the following:
Registrar: Permanent transcript, including dates of attendance, course of study, grades, and official action of the College relating to probation, dismissal, etc.
Dean of the College: Student personnel file, including application for admission, test scores, grades, student biographical form, copies of correspondence with or about student, notation of official disciplinary actions, petitions to Academic Progress Committee, copies of letters of recommendation.
Controller: Business records.
Adviser: Advising files, including grades, copies of petitions, and adviser’s notes and correspondence with student.
Communications: Public Information file, including copies of Lafayette College Student Biographical Form and news releases about students.
Health Professions Adviser: Health Professions Advisory Committee file, including the student’s transcript, medical aptitude scores, faculty evaluation, and correspondence regarding professional school admission.
A student who wishes to obtain access to his or her student record should submit to the registrar, dean, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record the student wishes to inspect. Within a reasonable amount of time, but no later than 45 days, the College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
Students may not see letters of reference or recommendations for which they have waived their rights of review.
A student who wishes to ask the college to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the portion of the record that the student would like changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College 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.
It is appropriate to seek amendment of information that is inaccurate or misleading. This is not a grade grievance mechanism. For example a student could question whether a grade has been entered incorrectly, but not the legitimacy of the grade itself.
The College discloses information from the 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 the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, 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 responsibilities for the College.
Upon request, the College also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
FERPA specifically identifies certain information called “Directory Information” that may be disclosed by the College without the consent of the student. Lafayette College considers the following to be directory information: Student’s name, College and home address and phone numbers, P.O. box number, email address, date of birth, photograph, dates of attendance, class year, degree program and major, adviser’s name, degrees and awards received, participation in College activities and the weight and height of members of athletic teams.
Although this information is public in nature, students may request that their directory information be withheld and released only upon written authorization by completing the required form and submitting it annually to the registrar’s office.
The College may, in specific instances and under strict limitations, release information from education records to individuals and/or agencies without the written consent of the students. Such persons are:
Lafayette may also release, without restriction, information which cannot be identified with particular students. An example of such data would be statistical information abstracted from educational records. The College reserves the right not to provide copies of third party documents.