Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

OBJECTIVE

To ensure Lipscomb University is controlling access to student information in a manner consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA – aka, the Buckley Amendment).

OVERVIEW

FERPA gives four basic rights to students.

  • the right to review their education records
  • the right to seek to amend their education records
  • the right to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information (directory information)
  • the right to notify the Department of Education concerning an academic institution’s failure to comply with FERPA regulations
  • the right to notify the Department of Education concerning an academic  institution’s failure to comply with FERPA regulations

FERPA provides for confidentiality of student records; however, FERPA allows the institution to release basic identification information (directory information) of students at Lipscomb University without the consent of the individual. Release of information to third parties includes directory information, such as contained in the campus telephone book, in the online web-based people directory, and in sports brochures. 

DEFINITIONS

Directory Information: Information that can be released without additional consent from the student. Lipscomb University has established the following as directory information:

  • Name
  • Semester (local) Address 
  • Permanent Address
  • Email Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Most Recent Previous Educational Institution Attended
  • Graduate or Undergraduate Level
  • Full-time or Part-time Status
  • Major
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Degrees and Awards
  • Participation in School Activities and Sports
  • Weight and Height

A student’s social security number is not directory information.

Advisor: Any person who is employed to work with students to assist in their academic success at Lipscomb University. For the purpose of this document, an advisor can be a faculty member, staff member, or graduate assistant and may or may not carry the title “Academic Advisor “ or “Advisor” and may or may not work in an “Advising Center.”

Student: Any person who attends or has attended Lipscomb University is considered a student. A student is considered to be an “attending student” if he or she

  • has been admitted;
  • is currently attending Lipscomb University classes (either as an on-campus or distance student); or
  • is a continuing education student.

Persons who have applied for admissions, but have NOT been admitted to Lipscomb University are NOT covered by FERPA.

Records Protected by FERPA: Any record that directly relates to a student and is maintained by the institution or a party acting on behalf of the institution is considered an education record. Protected education records can be maintained in paper, digital/electronic or other formats. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Transcripts
  • Class Schedules
  • Academic History Reports
  • Degree Audit Reports
  • Class Rolls
  • Grade Rolls
  • Advising Notes
  • Financial Records

Records NOT protected by FERPA: The following items are NOT education records as defined by FERPA.

  • Sole possession records (these are records kept in the sole possession of the maker, used as a personal memory aid and not revealed to others, for example, an instructor’s notes)
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records
  • Treatment records, including medical, psychological, and counseling
  • Post-attendance records, records created or received by the University after an individual is no longer a student and not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student
  • Records created in the normal course of business including but not limited to media files created for marketing purposes or media files created for instructional purposes
  • Peer graded papers before they are collected and recorded by faculty

These records are governed by other laws and policies.

DIRECTORY INFORMATION AND NON-DISCLOSURE (PRIVACY)

Student directory information is included in the online Web Directory. Students wishing limited disclosure may submit a request in writing to the Registrar. The Registrar will implement procedures to prevent the release of the student’s directory information.

Once a student has requested non-disclosure (privacy), his or her directory information will not be disclosed until the student provides written instruction to change this status. A student who has requested non-disclosure (privacy) will still have his or her name and other required information included on class rolls (in any format). Additionally, if the student has filed a consent to release form, that will override the non-disclosure instruction for the type of record and the person or party listed in the consent form.

FERPA NOTIFICATION

Students, faculty, and staff of Lipscomb University shall be notified of their FERPA rights and responsibilities on an annual basis. A variety of communication means shall be used to ensure the widest possible knowledge of FERPA rights and responsibilities.

ACCESS TO STUDENT RECORDS BY STUDENT

A student shall be permitted to inspect and review his/her records within forty-five days following the date on which he/she notifies the University that he/she desires access to such records. Reasonable requests by a student for an explanation or interpretation of records shall be granted. A student shall be entitled to challenge the content of his or her records. Disputes concerning the content of a student’s education record may be settled informally between the University and the student. Should resolution through informal means not be possible, either the University or the student shall have the right to request a hearing in order to resolve the dispute.  A student can request an amendment to their records when the record in question is believed to contain information that is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student’s rights of privacy. This right does not supplant other appeal processes in place at the University including grade appeals or academic dismissal appeals. When a formal hearing is requested by a student, it shall be granted through adherence with Lipscomb University FERPA hearing procedures. 

Limitation on Access by Student

A student’s access to his or her education records is limited by the following:

  • A student shall be denied access to a parent’s financial records.
  • A student shall be denied access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the University’s records prior to January 1, 1975.
  • A student shall be denied access to confidential recommendations respecting his/her admission to the University, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition if he/she has signed a waiver of access rights.
  • The University shall not require any student to waive access rights.
  • A party from which a recommendation is sought may require such a waiver.
  • A student who has signed a waiver shall be notified by the University of the names of parties providing confidential recommendations.
  • Confidential recommendations and letters shall be used only for the purpose for which they were solicited.

A student shall not be permitted to inspect records which personally identify other students even if he/she is personally identified. In such a case he/she shall simply be informed of the information contained in the record.

SCHOOL OFFICIALS

Students have the right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  The University discloses 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 University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including safety and security and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted as its agent to act or provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, consultant, volunteer, or collection agent), the person is under the direct control of the University, and the person is subject to the same conditions governing the use and redisclosure of education records that apply to other school officials; 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. Upon request, the University also discloses education records without a student’s consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

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 University. This includes but is not limited to course grades, attendance information, advising information, disciplinary records, financial statements, and housing information.  

COMPLAINT PROCESS

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. Such complaints may be submitted to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

Students also have the right to file a complaint with the State of Tennessee. Lipscomb University is a member of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA). For complaints not resolved through the processes established by Lipscomb University, please follow the procedures outlined by TICUA at www.ticua.org/about/complaint.