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Dean of Students Office

Grand Forks, ND

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Do Colleges and Universities have any written policy about information from student records that can be shared with parents?

Yes, institutions of higher education are subject to a federal law called Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also called "FERPA" or the "Buckley Amendment”). FERPA sets privacy standards for student educational records and requires colleges and universities to publish compliance statements, including all related institutional policies.

 

Where can I find out more information about FERPA?

FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA website (with links to FERPA regulations): http://www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco/ferpalist.html

You can also review your institution’s student handbook.

 

What records does FERPA cover?

The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions discussed below, part 99.3 of the FERPA regulations gives privacy to all students 'educational records.’ Education records are defined as "those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or Institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution." Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files, among others.

 

What protections does FERPA give to students concerning their records?
- Right to Inspect and Review Educational Records
- Right to Request to Amend Educational Records
- Right to have some control over the Disclosure of Information from educational records ("Personally Identifiable Information" or information that would directly identify the student or make the person’s identity easily traceable)

 

What does FERPA require of colleges and universities?

A public university must notify students annually of their rights (typically via the student handbook), and agree to give students the opportunity to limit the disclosure of personally identifiable information annually (such as information contained in a student directory). Also, public colleges and universities are  required to:
- Protect Students' Rights to Inspect and Review Records
- Protect Students' Rights to Request to Amend Records
- Protect Students' Right to Limit Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information contained in Education Records
- Ensure that authorized third parties do not redistribute personally identifiable information, except under a few circumstances
- Maintain records of requests for and disclosures of student education records

 

What does it mean to say a record is 'protected’ by FERPA'?

Unless personally identifiable information from a student's education record falls under a specified exception, the information cannot be released to third parties (including parents) without a signed and dated written release from the student.

 

There appears to be many exceptions to FERPA release of records, do any apply to parents and guardians?

- In cases where there is an alleged victim, the final results of a disciplinary hearing regarding an incident alleged to involve acts of violence, or forcible or non-forcible sex offense is disclosed to the victim (disclosure required)
- To the public, the final results of a disciplinary hearing against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (disclosure permitted, not required) (Foley Amendment)
- To parents/legal guardians of students under 21, if students are found to have violated the alcohol or drug policy of the institution (Warner Amendment)
- Some states have determined conduct records are not educational records and are public information.

Many of these are permissible exceptions and are not required. You will need to check with your institution to find out its policy. Some colleges and universities are not permitted to release this information due to state laws that may affect student records and privacy.

 

How can I learn how my child is doing'?

The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults isn't always easy. They are not often as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.

 

I had easy access to my student’s high school records, why don't I have the same access to records kept by the University?

Under FERPA, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary and secondary school setting are transferred to students, once a student has turned eighteen, or is attending any postsecondary educational institution.

 

Why do I have limited access to my child's college records when I'm paying the college expenses?

Student records are confidential. As a parent or legal guardian you must have a signed release from your student to access your student's college records. FERPA does not require colleges and universities to grant such parental access.

Will I be notified if my child is hurt or in danger?

FERPA does allow for an exception in emergency situations. There are also exceptions if your student is a threat or danger to others.

 

How will I know if my child is subject to University disciplinary action?
Student disciplinary records are protected under FERPA. The best practice is for your student to inform you about any disciplinary charges directly. Students can also authorize release of all the information in their disciplinary files. A copy of the file can then be sent to a parent or legal guardian upon request (please note: to protect others who may be involved, the file will be adjusted to protect personally identifiable information of other involved students). Most colleges and universities routinely advise students verbally and in writing to notify parents about any pending disciplinary charges.

 

I've heard about changes in FERPA allowing notice to the public if a student commits a crime of violence. What policies have colleges and universities adopted regarding this new provision?

This recent change in FERPA permits-but does not require-release of final results of campus disciplinary proceedings (reached on or after October 7, 1998) regarding specified crimes of violence or non-forcible sex offenses, as provided in part 99.31 (a) (14) {i} of the FERPA regulations. Consistent with other FERPA requirements, the college or university MAY make public, upon request, the identity of individuals suspended or expelled for any crime of violence or nonforcible sex offences specified in the law. This is again something that you will need to check with your institution.

 

I've also seen press reports about a new FERPA provision allowing notice to parents when a student violates drug or alcohol laws. What positions have colleges and university taken on this new rule?

Part 99,31 (8) (15) (I} of the FERPA regulations authorizes-but does not require disclosure to parents of "the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

UND’s Parental Notification policy is found in the Code of Student Life, Section 1-F.

What to Do When Your Child Is Involved In the Campus Conduct Process

Sending your child to an institution of higher education is as much of a transition for parents as it is for students. The relationship you have with your son or daughter will undoubtedly change. Students are expected to make decisions on their own, to learn to resolve conflict independently, and to take responsibility for their actions. At the same time they covet your love, respect your opinion, and generally operate on the values you instilled in them. So what should you do when your student becomes involved in the campus conduct system?

The following section provides some recommendations for parents when they discover that their student is involved in the campus conduct process.
1. While colleges and universities recognize that your goal is to provide support for your student, conduct officers ask that you provide this support unconditionally, but not blindly. Understand that there is a process in place to hear all information regarding the incident in question and encourage your student to prepare him or herself for the process.
2. When your son or daughter receives paperwork regarding conduct procedures and has questions, direct him or her to contact a staff member in  the conduct office for information. Staff members are not permitted to give specifics to parents and will most likely recommend that the student call anyway. This also empowers the student to solve his or her own issues and concerns.
3. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 precludes the college or university from discussing your child’s academic and disciplinary record without his/her written permission.
4. Educate yourself on the institution’s student conduct process by going to the department’s web site or by requesting a copy of the conduct code. Many of your questions may be easily addressed through this medium and many colleges and universities are putting information on the World Wide Web to assist parents in understanding the student conduct process.
5. Practice the “24 Hour Rule.” You may receive a phone call or email message from your student because he or she is upset about facing conduct charges. You may be tempted to try to immediately fix the problem for them. This intervention invariably fails. Try to allow 24 hours to inform, guide, teach, observe, and chastise (if necessary). Lessons learned through participation in a student conduct process must be experienced to have the desired effect. After all, gaining a higher education degree is about learning.

College and university conduct officers take their responsibilities as educators very seriously and do their best to provide a fair and unbiased system for all students. While these professionals understand that involvement in the conduct process may be difficult for students, they do their best to provide them support to effectively handle the situations in which they find themselves.

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Also see FERPA Information on UND’s Registrar’s webpage

 

 

Dean of Students
180 McCannel Hall
2891 2nd Avenue Stop 9040
Grand Forks, ND 58202

The University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 58202
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