Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for Faculty and Staff

FERPA was enacted by the US Congress in 1974.  It is a set of regulations that applies to those institutions that receive funding from the Department of Education.  It guarantees students the right to inspect and review their educational records, the right to seek to amend educational records, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from those educational records.  Please note that FERPA and the Georgia Open Records Act should be considered together when responding to a request for records.

Definitions:

Educational records- those records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information "directly related to a student" and are maintained by UWG.  It does not include law enforcement records, records in the sole possession of an employee that is not accessible or revealed to any other person, records related to a student's employment at UWG, and Treatment Records unless disclosed for purposes not related for treatment.

Treatment records - records made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional in connection with the treatment of a student AND disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment.  It does not include remedial educational activities or records that are part of a program of instruction, i.e., accommodation records.

Directory Information - may be disclosed unless a student has requested non-disclosure through the Registrar's office.  If a student has elected non-disclosure, it is as though that student doesn't exist.  (Students may elect non-disclosure if they have a protective order against another individual, etc.)  You should respond to requests for information with "I have no information about that individual."  At UWG, Directory Information includes:

  • Name, Address, Telephone Number
  • Major Field of Study
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Previous Institutions Attended
  • Degrees and Awards Received
  • Participation in Officially Recognized Activities and Sports
  • Height and Weight of Members of Athletics Teams
  • Photograph
  • Full- or Part-Time Status

Disclosure:

On certain occasions, you may be able to release non-directory information about a student to a third party (parents included) without the student's written authorization.   However, if possible, UWG prefers that you obtain a release from the student to be certain that you are complying with FERPA.  Forms may be found HERE.  The following is a brief summary of instances when you may be able to disclose information without the student's authorization:

To another university official with a legitimate educational interest

To a parent/legal guardian who can demonstrate that the student is a tax dependent (the latest Tax Form is acceptable)

If it is requested by law enforcement with proper official identification

If you are unable to obtain the student's permission or are unclear about what you should do, please contact the University General Counsel or the Registrar. 


The DANGER ZONE:

Public posting of grades, either by the student's name, student number, or social security number is a violation of FERPA. 
Allowing students to leave papers, tests, etc. in an area that is not constantly supervised by you or a teaching assistant, or that is accessible by anyone without a legitimate educational interest (i.e., leaving a box on your secretary's desk for papers)
Sending grades by electronic mail is a violation of FERPA; other information may be permissible, but electronic mail is generally discouraged due to the ease that it may be intercepted
Sharing the student's schedule with anyone other than a University official with a legitimate educational interest; you could be endangering the student's safety.
Storing educational records on storage devices such as memory-sticks, etc. without encryption or password protection.  See UWG's ________ Policy.
When writing a letter of recommendation for a student, do not mention grades unless you have the permission of the student. General observations about the student's attendance or qualifications are acceptable.

  

Tips 

  • Keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your job duty.  The exchange of messages that concern the student's educational records with colleagues not involved in that student's education is not a good idea.  It is ok to exchange your personal observations of the student's behavior or habits to assist in identifying barriers to learning.
  • Forward all judicial orders, subpoenas, or other written requests for data to the Open Records Officer or University General Counsel.
  • In the case of an emergency situation, direct requests for student information to the University Police or University General Counsel.


Forms