Section 2 - General Policies

Policy Number: 2.26 - SECURITY OF STUDENTS RECORDS AND FERPA

SCOPE: STAFF, FACULTY AND STUDENT EMPLOYEES Issued: 05/10/07

Policy: All Lamar University employees are required to abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA applies to any person enrolled in an institution of higher education, regardless of age. FERPA stipulates that certain student information, including but not limited to grades, grade point average, academic probation/suspension and social security/student identification number, may NOT be given to a third party without the WRITTEN consent of the student who ―owns‖ the information.

Students have the right to inspect and review their own student education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

Students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

Generally, schools must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  1. School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  2. Other schools to which a student is transferring; 
  3. Specified officials for audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs; 
  4. Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  5. Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the education institutions; 
  6. Accrediting organizations; 
  7. Releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence; 
  8. Disclosure to parents of any student under the age of 21, a violation of federal, state, local or institutional laws/regulations related to substance abuse;
  9. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; 
  10. Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; 
  11. State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law; and 
  12. Disclosure to parents of dependent students (IRS definition), with appropriate documentation on file

Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, classification, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight/height of members of athletic teams, honors and awards, dates of attendance and the last educational agency or institution attended. However, schools must tell students about directory information and allow students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school. FERPA rights end at death.

Lamar University employees may not post grades by social security/student identification number (even a partial number) or in any other manner that personally identifies the student. Employees may not allow anyone other than the student or an agent of the university who has a legitimate need to know to see student information on a monitor or hard copy or to have access to such information, unless they have written permission from the student. Parents are not allowed access to such information unless they file a dependent’s statement with a photocopy of the page of their federal income tax form listing dependents as proof that the student is their dependent.

Employees, who fail to take proper measures to safeguard this information, place Lamar University at risk. Such employees may be denied access to University data systems. The penalty for FERPA violations could result in the loss of federal funds for the University, including the ability to provide Federal Financial Aid to our students.

Employees using the University Student Information System (SIS) must be constantly aware of FERPA issues. In particular, students may place a “Directory Hold” on release of ANY information about themselves. In those situations, a privacy notice will be displayed in SIS whenever someone authorized to enter the SIS system keys in the student’s identification or social security number. When this occurs a warning will appear stating “Do not give out any information on a student who has placed a “Directory Hold” on his/her information.” If the person requesting the information is not the student, please refer them to the Records Office of Lamar University.

All Lamar University personnel must acknowledge that they understand and accept the responsibility of protecting the privacy of students.