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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the confidentiality of the educational records of students. The following guidelines are presented to assist all members of the Burlington College community in understanding the provisions of the act as they apply to Burlington College.
To the eligible student, FERPA guarantees four rights: the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend education records, the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from education records, and the right to file a complaint over the alleged violation of these rights by any institution of higher education.
Eligible Student: Any student attending Burlington College, an institution of postsecondary education, is an “eligible student” for purposes of this policy. Except as provided below, access to non-directory information must be made by written request directly from the eligible student.
The Right to Inspect and Review Education Records
All current and former students will have access to their education records in compliance with FERPA upon written request to the applicable office(s). Students and former students should contact the appropriate office to schedule an appointment to inspect the record. The appointment will be scheduled during normal business hours under the supervision of the education officer responsible for the record. Students have a right to a copy of their education record if he or she does not live within commuting distance of the college. Copies of most records will be furnished to students for a charge of $1 for up to 10 pages; postage charges will be added when applicable.
The right to examine education records does not give a student a right to examine (1) financial records of the student’s parents, (2) confidential letters of recommendation placed in a student’s file prior to January 1, 1975, if the letters have not been used for purposes other than that specifically intended, and (3) confidential recommendations written for the purposes of (a) admission to the College, (b) employment by the College, and (c) receipt of an honor or award for which the student has signed a waiver of his or her right to access. Where the education record requested contains personally identifiable information of other students, the requesting student may inspect only those portions of the record that pertain solely to him or her.
The Right to Seek to Amend Education Records
A student has the right to request that the contents of his or her education records be amended if he or she believes the contents are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights of privacy. This policy does not apply to academic grades received for course work except when there is reason to believe that an error was made in recording the grades to the transcript. The custodian of the record will decide whether to amend the record within a reasonable time.
If the custodian determines that the requested amendment will not be made, the student will be given notice of that decision and advised of his or her right to a hearing to contest the custodian’s decision. Upon receipt of this notice, it is the student’s responsibility to make a written request for a hearing to the College registrar. The registrar will appoint a person, including an official of the College who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing, to conduct the hearing, and will provide notice of the date, time, and place reasonably in advance of the hearing.
The hearing officer will prepare a written decision summarizing the evidence presented at the hearing and providing reasons for the decision. The decision will be based solely on evidence presented at the hearing. If, after the hearing, the determination is that the student’s records are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights to privacy, then the custodian of the record shall amend the record and inform the student of the amendment in writing.
If, after the hearing, the determination is that the records are not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights, the hearing officer will inform the student of his or her right to place a statement in his or her records stating the grounds for disagreeing with the contested record and/or the hearing officer’s decision. If the student places such a statement in his or her records, the statement will be maintained for as long as the record is maintained, and disclosed with the record whenever the record is disclosed.
The Right to Have Some Control over the Disclosure of Information from Education Records
Pursuant to FERPA, an education record of an eligible student will not be disclosed without the student’s written consent, subject to the exceptions stated below. Accordingly, this institution, in full compliance with FERPA, cannot and will not respond to telephone, electronic, facsimile, or written inquiries regarding the education records of current or previous (living) students without the express written consent of the student. Should a third party have questions regarding the education records of a Burlington College student, the third party must contact the student to whom the record belongs and have the student submit the appropriate documentation to the Registrar’s Office that authorizes the release of information to a third party.
In the following situations, the College may release a student’s education records without the student’s knowledge or consent:
- Designated Directory Information: This information may be released without requiring prior, written consent of the student. Directory Information includes: name, address, telephone number, email address, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees and awards received, date and place of birth, most recent school attended, and participation in officially recognized activities. A student may restrict some or all information in his or her student record that may be disclosed by the College by filing a signed, written request with the Registrar’s Office that specifies which information is to be restricted and the time period. Records of Social Security numbers, student ID numbers, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and grades are examples of non-directory information.
- Education official with legitimate educational interest as defined by the College: Any Burlington College employee with authorized access to student records or recordkeeping responsibilities for those records. For the purposes of this policy, this includes contractors hired by the institution to perform special tasks. Legitimate Educational Interest: An education official has legitimate educational interest in an education record when the official needs to review the record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of the College, such as when the official is: performing a task that is specified in his or her job description or by a contract agreement or other official appointment; performing a task related to a student’s education or to student discipline; providing a service or benefit related to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement; or maintaining safety and security on campus. A legitimate educational interest shall mean any authorized interest or activity undertaken in the name of the College for which access to an education record is necessary or appropriate to the proper performance of the undertaking. This includes contracted service providers who provide a service that the College would normally perform itself.
- Authorized federal and state officials in process of administering educational programs. For instance, upon reasonable notice, the College shall make available to a representative of the Vermont State Board of Education its student records for the purpose of ensuring compliance with record maintenance regulations. Examination of records for this purpose will take place in a manner that will not permit the identification of individual students.
- Requirements for the administration of the Financial Aid program.
- Accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting function.
- Organizations conducting studies on educational programs provided that the identity of the student is not revealed.
- An emergency involving the health or safety of the student or other persons.
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully-issued subpoena.
- To give notice to parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of local, state, or federal law or College policy governing the use and possession of alcohol or a controlled substance where the College has determined that the student has violated the College policy and the student is under 21 years.
- Certain information concerning a disciplinary proceeding against a student with respect to an alleged crime of violence as defined in FERPA.
- Parents of a student who is a US tax dependent of either parent. (Permitted but not required by FERPA)
The Right to File a Complaint over the Alleged Violation of These Rights by Any Institution of Higher Education.
To file a complaint over the alleged violation of FERPA rights, contact:
Family Policy Compliance Officer
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605