Franciscan University of Steubenville Policy Statement on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Download the Consent to the Release of Academic Information Form
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a Federal law stating (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.
Access to Records Policy
Franciscan University of Steubenville accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent. 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, except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students' financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the act.
Within the University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students' educational interests are allowed access to student education records. These members include personnel in the administrative offices and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.
Release of Student Information to Parents
Within the limits of the law, Franciscan University will consider releasing information from a dependent student's record to his or her parents. If the student has not given the approval to release such information, the parent must provide written documentation (i.e., copy of tax form) verifying that the student was declared a dependent student on the parent's most recent tax form. This verification should be mailed to the Director of Enrollment Services. Certification that a student has dependent status will be honored for only the current academic year; therefore, requests for release of information in subsequent academic semesters must be preceded by updated documentation. Non-directory information of students with independent status cannot be released to parents or any third party without the student's written consent.
At its discretion, the institution may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the act to include: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, class schedule, dates of attendance, degrees, awards received, the most recent 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. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of class for the fall term. Students beginning their studies in the spring term, may notify the Registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of class for the spring term. Request for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold directory information must be filed annually in the Enrollment Services Department.
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 should they feel the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar for academic records, the Director of Student Life for disciplinary records, or the Director of Career Planning and Placement for placement records. Only records covered by the act will be made available within 45 days of the request.
Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions (e.g., a copy of the academic records for which financial "hold" exists or a transcript of an original or source document, which exists elsewhere). These copies would be made at the student's expense at prevailing rates listed in the current catalog. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel that are the sole possession of the maker. Such records are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute. Also not included are records of the law enforcement unit, the University student health records, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the student's 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, 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 that 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 purpose for which they were collected.
Challenge of Information
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the administrator maintaining the records in question. If the decisions are in agreement with the students' requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, students will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and they will be informed of their right to a formal hearing. Requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Dean of the Faculty who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing. Students 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 students' expense. The hearing panel that will adjudicate such challenges will be the Dean of the Faculty, the Director of Student Life, and the Department Chairman.
Decisions of the hearing panels will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panels, if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place statements commenting on the information in the records with the education records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the students' records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the act may request in writing, assistance from the President of the institution. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged, may file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), Department of Health and Human Resources, Washington, DC 20201, concerning the alleged failures of Franciscan University of Steubenville to comply with the act.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and institution's policy warrants.