Family Education Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) (Pl93-390/93-568)
In Accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (commonly known as FERPA or the “Buckley Amendment”), North Carolina Wesleyan University has adopted the following policies and procedures to protect the privacy of education records. Students will be notified of their FERPA rights annually by publication in the University catalog and under the Clery Act’s “Student Right to Know” informational posting on the university’s website.
Definitions: North Carolina Wesleyan University uses the following definitions in this policy:
Student: Any person who attends or has attended the University
Education Records: Any record maintained by the University that is directly related to a student, with the following exceptions:
- Private notes or records held by educational personnel and not accessible to or revealed to any other person kept in the sole possession of a teacher or administrator
- Campus law enforcement records maintained by Campus Security
- Student medical or psychiatric records created and maintained solely for treatment purposes except by a physician of the student’s choice;
- Employment records unless the employment records are contingent on the fact that the employee is a student
- Parents’ financial information
- Alumni records
- Directory information
Types, Locations & Custodians of Education Records
The following is a list of types of Education Records that the University maintains and their location:
|Admission & Academic Records
||Office of Financial Aid
|Academic Advising Records
||Counseling & Disability Services
|Disciplinary & Student
||Office of Student Affairs
Procedure to Inspect Education Records
Students may inspect and review their education records by submitting a written request to the appropriate record custodial office. Students should submit their request that identifies as precidely as possible the records they wish to inspect. The custodial office will make the needed arrangements for access as promptly as possible and will notify the student of the time and location where the records may be inspected. Access will be allowed no more than 45 days after receipt of the written request. When a record contains information about more than one student, the students may inspect and review only the records that related to him or her.
Right of the University to Refuse Access
North Carolina Wesleyan University reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect the following records:
- The financial statement(s) of the student’s parents
- Letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived his or her right of access or which was placed in the file before January 1, 1975
- Records connected with an application to attend North Carolina Wesleyan University if that application was denied
- Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the University will permit access only to that part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student
- Those records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records.
Right of North Carolina Wesleyan University to Provide Copies
North Carolina Wesleyan University reserves the right to deny official copies of transcripts or other records (not required to be made available under FERPA), if the student has an overdue financial obligation to the University, has defaulted on university loans or if there is an unresolved disciplinary or academic dishonesty action against the student.
Disclosure of Education Records
The University will disclose information from a student’s educational records only with the written consent of the student, except:
- To school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records. A school official is:
- A person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position
- A person employed by or under contract to the University to perform a special task, such as legal counsel or an auditor
- A person elected to the Board of Trustees
- Law enforcement unit officials who are employed by the University.
- A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:
- Performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement; or
- Performing a task related to a student’s education; or
- Performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or
- Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.
- To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education and state and local education authorities in connection with certain state or federally supported programs
- In connection with a student’s request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine eligibility, amount or conditions of financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid
- If required by state law requiring disclosure that was adopted before November 19, 1974
- To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the University
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
- To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.
FERPA permits school officials to disclose any and all education records, including disciplinary records, to another institution at which the student seeks or intends to enroll.
FERPA permits institutions to comply with information requests from the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau in order to comply with the requirements of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Records of Requests for Disclosure
The University will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosure of information from a student’s education records. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request, any additional party to whom it may be disclosed and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information. The student may review the record.
Directory information may be disclosed by the University without written permission of the student. Directory information includes a student’s full name, address, place of birth, age, current residence (city only), major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, full or part-time status, e-mail address, class standing and other similar information.
FERPA does not permit students to challenge grades or other evaluations of academic performance. The University may refuse to consider a request to change an instructor’s grade, unless the student indicates that the grade should be changed because of an alleged recording error. Students who wish to appeal a grade should follow the grade appeal policy in the University catalog.
Correction of Education Records
If a student believes that any information contained in their education records is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their privacy rights, they may request in writing that the office that contains those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the record they want changed and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their privacy rights.
That office will reach a decision and inform the student in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If the record custodian refuses to amend the record, students have the right to a hearing. A hearing officer appointed by the Senior Vice-President of Academic Affairs will conduct this hearing. The hearing officer will be someone who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. The hearing officer may be an official of the institution. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for a hearing has been made. The hearing officer will notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place and time of the hearing.
Students will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. One or more persons, including an attorney, may accompany the student. The hearing officer will make a decision in writing based on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
If the hearing officer supports the complaint, the education record will be amended accordingly and the student will be so informed. If the hearing officer decides not to amend the education record, the student has a right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreeing with the decision. This statement will be maintained a part of the education record as long as the contested portion is maintained and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, the student’s statement will be included.
Parental Access to Children’s Education Records
When a student turns 18 years of age or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, all rights afforded to the parents under FERPA transfer to the student. The student must give the parents or any other third party, the right to inspect his or her records in writing, on a specific case by case basis.
However, FERPA also provides ways in which schools may share information with parents without the student’s consent. For example:
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if the student is a dependent for income tax purposes and the parent provides the appropriate documentation to the school.
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
- Schools may inform parents if the student who is under age 21 has violated any law or its policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- A school official may generally share with a parent information that is based on that official’s personal knowledge or observation of the student.
Formal Complaint Process
Students have a right to file a complaint with the FERPA office within the Department of Education if the student feels that the University has violated FERPA or its regulations. The office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
Department of Education
600 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605