What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also referred to as the Buckley Amendment, is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. The rights provided by this Act transfer from the parent to the son or daughter when the student reaches the age of 18 OR attends a postsecondary school -- whichever comes first. Under this law, students have the following rights with regards to their educational records:
- The right to inspect and review their education records.
- The right to request an amendment to their education records when they believe the records are inaccurate or misleading.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in their education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with FERPA.
Additional information concerning these rights is contained in the Student Handbook.
What is an education record?
An education record is any record that is directly related to a student that is maintained by the College or by a party acting on behalf of the College. This includes information recorded in any medium such as handwriting, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm and microfiche.
What is not considered an education record?
FERPA outlines many records not considered as an education record, and therefore not afforded protection under FERPA. Some of these are outlined below.
- Sole possession records or private notes held by a school official that are not accessible or released to other personnel, except individuals serving as a temporary substitute for the school official;
- Campus security or law enforcement records that are held by a school official that are not accessible by or released to other personnel except in emergency situations;
- Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution, unless the employment is contingent on their status as a student (e.g., work-study students).
- Records of an institution that contain information about an individual obtained only after that person is no longer a student at that institution (e.g. alumni records).
What disclosures does FERPA allow for without the provision of student consent?
FERPA outlines some exceptions for the disclosure of a student’s education record without the student's consent. Some of the exceptions that may be utilized by TCC without student consent and/or notification are provided below.
- The disclosure is to school officials who have been determined to have legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the college has retained as its agent to provide a service instead of using college employees/officials (such as an attorney, auditor, contractor, consultant, volunteer, or collection agent); 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. 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 responsibility.
- The disclosure is to officials of another institution in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
- The disclosure is to state or local educational authorities auditing or evaluating Federal or State supported education programs or enforcing Federal laws which relate to those programs.
- The disclosure is pursuant to a lawfully issued court order or subpoena.
- The disclosure is made for compliance with the Solomon Amendment.
- The disclosure is to a parent who legally declares the student as a dependent, as defined by 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. (NOTE: Regardless of the student's age, a parent seeking access to their son or daughter's educational record must present proof upon each request of their child's dependency to a campus Enrollment Services Office by way of the most recent year's federal tax return.)
- The disclosure is to parents and legal guardians of students under the age of 21, regardless of their dependency status, of information regarding a student's violation of laws or policies governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- The disclosure is made in situations deemed by the college as a health/safety emergency.
- The disclosure is provided to organizations conducting studies to improve instruction, or to accrediting organizations.
- The disclosure is made in connection with the receipt of financial aid (validating eligibility).
- The disclosure is made in connection with information received from the Virginia State Police and in accordance with the Wetterling Act regarding a registered sexual offender.
- Section 507 of the USA Patriot Act (2001) amends FERPA by permitting educational agencies and institutions to disclose - without the consent or knowledge of the student or parent - personally identifiable information from the student's education records to the Attorney General of the United States or to his designee in response to an ex parte order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes. In addition, the school is not required to record such disclosures.
- The information disclosed has been designated as directory information by the college.
What is directory information, and what student information does Tidewater Community College define as directory information?
At its discretion, Tidewater Community College may disclose "directory information" in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Directory information is defined as that information which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
Designated directory information at Tidewater Community College includes the following:
- Student's name
- Mailing address of record*
- College email address
- Number of credit hours enrolled
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
* Disclosure is limited to colleges and universities only
Students may prohibit the release of directory information through submission of a Prohibit Release of Directory Information form to any campus Enrollment Services Office within one week after the initial day of class during any regular semester/term.
This request will prohibit the college from releasing this directory information, unless permitted as an exception under § 99.31 of FERPA or the student submits written consent for each individual disclosure. Students should consider very carefully the consequences of a decision to withhold directory information. Regardless of the effect upon a student, Tidewater Community College assumes no liability as a result of honoring a student’s instructions that such information be withheld.
Initial requests for non-disclosure will be honored by the College unless a written notice to remove the non-disclosure block has been submitted by the student to a campus Enrollment Services Office.
Who should I contact if I have questions regarding FERPA?
Individuals having questions regarding FERPA may contact TCC's Privacy Officer, who can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information may also be obtained from any campus Enrollment Services Office or any dean for student services.