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III - 6.30 - Policy on Confidentiality and Disclosure of Student Records

 

I. PURPOSE

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides students certain rights of access, privacy, and protection of education records. Bowie State University is committed to securing the privacy of its student’s education records and personally identifiable information. This policy provides information relating to the rights of students under FERPA and Bowie State University’s policies and procedures when complying with FERPA.

II. SCOPE

This policy applies to anyone who maintains, accesses, or otherwise uses education records on behalf of the University, which includes faculty, staff, and other University representatives with access to student education records, as well as all students.

III. DEFINITIONS

  1. Directory Information - A subset of Education Records which may be released without a student’s consent as it would not generally be harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
  2. Education Records - Records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution. This does not include:
    1. Records maintained personally by faculty members that are not available to others.
    2. Records that are created or maintained by a physician, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional that are created, maintained, or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment.
    3. Records, such as those that might be maintained by the University's legal counsel, the confidentiality of which is protected by law.
    4. Records containing financial information about his or her parents, such as information submitted in connection with an application for financial aid.
  3. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) - Information that would reveal the identity of a student or make the student’s identity easily traceable.
  4. Student – An individual who is or has been in attendance at the University, whether in person or through distance education.

IV. POLICY

A. STUDENTS RIGHTS

Generally, students have the right to inspect and review their education records, exercise a limited control over disclosure of information contained in their Education Records, seek to correct their Education Records, report violations of FFERPA to the Department of Education, and be informed about their FERPA rights. At the University, educational records of a student are maintained by the Office of Registrar, the office of the school or department in which the student is enrolled, and the office of the department of the student's major field of study.

1. Right to Inspect and Review Education Records

Students have the right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the day the appropriate University office receives a request for access. Students should submit a written request that specifically identifies the education record(s) they wish to inspect and review to the Office of the Registrar. Note that a request to inspect and review "all records" is not normally sufficient to identify records for inspection and review. The Office of the Registrar will work with the student and the applicable record-holding department to facilitate arrangements for the date, time, and place where the records may be inspected.

2. Right to Provide Consent to Disclose Education Records

The University may not disclose “education records” to anyone other than the relevant student unless it first has obtained a signed and dated written consent from the relevant student, specifying the records that may be disclosed, the purpose for which they may be disclosed, and the persons or classes of persons to whom they may be disclosed.

It is also the University’s policy to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records unless it has the student’s prior written consent, subject to the limitations and exclusions addressed in Section B. below. 

3. Right to Correct Education Records

Students may request that the University amend an education record that they believe is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights. A student seeking an amendment should write the University official responsible for the record, specifically identify the part of the record the student is requesting to have amended, and provide evidence as to why it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the privacy rights of the student. Note that the basis for changing the records relate to the record as of the time it is made. Later changes in circumstances may not be used as a basis for retroactively changing the record.

a. Decision

While the University is required to consider the student’s request to amend their educational records, the University is not required to amend the record in accordance with the request. Should the University decide not to amend the record in accordance with the request, the University will notify the student of the decision and inform the student of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing (if applicable).

b. Hearing

The hearing, if applicable, may be conducted by any University official who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. The University will not assign as the hearing officer either the individual who originally determined not to amend the education record or someone who is in a direct reporting or close collegial relationship with that individual.

c. Right to Place an Explanation in Student Records

If, as a result of the hearing, the University still decides not to amend the record, the University will inform the student of their right to insert a statement in the record commenting on the contested information and/or stating why they disagree with the decision of the University. The University will maintain that statement with the contested part of the student's record for as long as the record is maintained at the University.

The FERPA amendment procedure may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded. The amendment procedure may not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or a substantive decision made about a student. FERPA does not override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations. If these amendment procedures are not applicable to a student's request for amendment of education records, the University is not required to hold a hearing on the matter.

4. Reporting FERPA Violations

A student alleging University noncompliance with FERPA may file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Education at:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC, 20202-4605

or by visiting the Department of Education’s website.

B.DISCLOSURE OF STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS

1. Disclosure with Consent

Prior written consent is required for the University to disclose information from a student’s education record to third parties (outside of the allowable methods under FERPA). The University does not accept verbal, oral, or spoken consent as valid consent. The University requires that prior written consent contain the following elements:

  1. The student’s name (including as it appeared during their attendance at the University) and student identification number (if possible);
  2. That the record may be disclosed by the University;
  3. To whom the record may be disclosed;
  4. The exact description of the record to be disclosed (the University does not accept consent for "any and all records" or that appears global or blanket in nature);
  5. The purpose for the disclosure of the record; and
  6. Signed by the student and dated within the past year.

Although the student’s written consent provides University’s with the discretion and ability to share student educational records, the University is not required to disclose the relevant records.

2. Disclosure of Student Records without Consent
The University will not generally permit access to, or release of, educational records or personally identifiable information contained therein to any party without the written consent of the student. The University may, however, in accordance with FERPA, release such data to certain persons including:

1. Disclosures to University officials with legitimate educational interests.

A University official is a person employed by the University 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 University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Corporation; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another University official in performing their tasks. A University official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibility.

2. Directory information.

At the University’s discretion, the University may disclose directory information which includes a student's:

  1. Name
  2. Permanent Address
  3. Telephone Number
  4. University Email Address
  5. Date of Birth
  6. Dates of Attendance
  7. Degrees and Awards Received
  8. Classification (e.g., freshman, sophomore)
  9. Level (e.g. undergraduate, graduate)
  10. Major Field of Study
  11. Enrollment Status (e.g. full-time, part-time)
  12. Most recent previous educational institution attended
  13. Participation in recognized activities and sports
  14. Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Under certain extenuating circumstances, a student may request an exception to this rule. See Section 3 below for information on how to restrict of the sharing of directory information;

3. Disclosure to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
In such cases, the University will make a reasonable effort to notify the student in advance of compliance unless prohibited by the terms of the subpoena or court order;

4. Disclosure in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received.
The University may disclose this information as necessary to determine eligibility, amounts, or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid;

5. Disclosure, upon request, to officials of another educational institution where the student seeks or intends to enroll or is already enrolled.

6. Disclosure in connection with a health or safety emergency.

7. Disclosure of the results of an institutional disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence.
This information may be disclosed to the alleged victim of that crime with respect to that crime.

8. Disclosure of the final results (name, violation committed, and sanction imposed) of a disciplinary proceeding against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense.
The University may disclose the final results of a disciplinary proceeding against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense only if, as a result of the proceeding, it is determined that the student committed a violation of University rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense; and

9. Disclosure to parents or guardians of information concerning violations of law or University policies or rules regarding the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances.

10. The University may make disclosures to parents regarding violations of law or University policies related to the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances if the student has been found to have committed a disciplinary violation regarding that use or possession and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure.

11. Disclosure to authorized representatives of the federal, state and/or local government as permitted by FERPA in connection with an audit of federal- or state-supported education programs or with the enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements relating to those programs.

12. Disclosure to accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.

13. Disclosure to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions.
The University may make disclosures to organizations conducting studies on behalf of education agencies or institutions that:

  1. Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
  2. Administer student aid programs; or
  3. Improve instruction.

Disclosures made pursuant to this paragraph are subject to the requirements that (i) the studies are conducted in a manner that does not permit personal identification of parents and students to individuals other than representatives of the organization; and (ii) the information is destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted.

3. Restrictions on the Disclosure of Directory Information

Students may restrict the release of directory information to third parties by initiating a directory block at any time. To initiate a directory block, a student should complete a waiver form on the University’s webpage.

Should a student decide to issue a directory block, the student’s record will be marked as confidential, which will bar the University from responding to any requests for information about the student except where permitted or required under FERPA, such as when the University receives a subpoena. Implications of invoking a directory block include, but are not limited to:

  1. The University will be unable to verify enrollment or degrees conferred (this includes to potential employers who want verification of degree(s));
  2. The University will not acknowledge any record of the student to any person or entity who inquires; and
  3. The student's name will not be released to honor societies and award programs even if honors criteria are met.

A directory block will remain in effect until it is revoked by the student. The University will honor a student’s request to restrict directory information but cannot assume responsibility to contact the student for subsequent permission to release the block. The University assumes no liability for honoring student instructions that such information be withheld.

Please note that a directory block does not include the right to remain anonymous in class and may not be used to impede routine classroom communications and interactions, whether class is held in a specified physical location or on-line through electronic communications.

For more information regarding the placement of directory blocks, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

C. DISCLOSURE LOGS

The appropriate University records custodian shall maintain a log of each request for and each disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records of a student that indicates the persons who have requested or obtained personally identifiable information and their legitimate interests in obtaining it. However, this requirement does not apply to:

  1. Disclosures pursuant to the written consent of the student, when the consent is specific with respect to the party or parties to whom the disclosure is to be made;
  2. Disclosures to University Officials, when it has been determined that the official has a legitimate educational interest; and
  3. Disclosures of Directory Information; and
  4. Disclosures to the student upon the student’s own request.
D. REDISCLOSURE

University Officials who disclose personally identifiable information from an education record must inform the recipient of the information that he/she/it may not re-disclose that information without the consent of the student, and that the recipient may only use the information received for the purpose for which the disclosure was made, except where an exception applies.

 

Revised: June 11, 2012
Revised: July 8, 2020