FERPA (Rights to Privacy)
Student Right to Privacy & Right to Know
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a US law that governs the privacy of student educational records, access to those records and disclosure of information from them.
Students have the following rights under FERPA. The right to:
- Inspect and review educational records
- Seek to amend education records
- Consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information, except to the extent FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
- File a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with the requirements of FERPA
Directory information is the information the college is able to release regarding a student unless the student requests it not to be released. This information includes:
- Student name
- Major field of study
- Part-time or full-time status
- Dates of attendance
- Matriculation and withdrawal dates
- Awards and honors
- Mailing address
- Academic classification (freshman/sophomore)
- Participation in recognized activities and photos
- Degrees and certificates
- Memberships in national honor societies
- Inclusion of an individual in a group photo
If the student objects to the release of directory information, the student may deny the release of directory information by notifying the Registrar in writing. OTC will honor requests for non-disclosure until written notice is received from the student to remove the request for non-disclosure. Please note the implications of denying the release of directory information. If a perspective employer, loan company, family member, etc., inquire about a student, the Registrar will inform them that OTC has no record of that student. OTC will provide no information regarding the student unless photo identification is shown verifying it is the student who is present and making the request. More information.
At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent right to inspect a student’s educational records. Only students have the right to inspect. OTC may release records to parents only under the following circumstances:
- Through the written consent of the student
- In compliance with subpoena
FERPA for Instructors
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, student identification number or social security number is a violation of FERPA.
Distributing graded tests or assignments in a manner that exposes the student’s identity is a violation of FERPA. Students should not be able to see other student’s grades in a way that would allow the students to know who received a particular grade. Example: students should not look through a stack of assignments to find their own assignment.
Email and Phone
Instructors may send information protected by FERPA to the student’s OTC e-mail account. Sharing protected information over the phone or by an e-mail address other than the student’s OTC e-mail address is a violation because you cannot be certain to whom you are speaking.
Access to Student Records
Instructors need to demonstrate legitimate educational interest to receive access to student records beyond their class and grade rosters. A legitimate educational interest exists if the instructor needs to view the education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities such as academic advising or institutional research. Curiosity nor personal interest are not legitimate reasons.
Handling of Student Records
Student information should be kept in a secure location and handled in a confidential manner.
Parents/Spouses Requesting Information
Parents, spouses may not have access to student information unless the student provides written authorization. The Consent to Release Student Information form filed with the Registrar’s Office would be the appropriate authorization. This form allows in-person conversations after the individual has verified his or her identity by presenting picture identification.