Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Western Connecticut State University accords all the rights under the law to students. No one outside the university shall have access to, nor will the university disclose information from, a student's educational records without his/her written consent except to personnel within the university, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accreditation groups, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons or to parents of a student who is officially documented as their dependent for income tax purposes. All these exceptions are permitted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The university will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosure of information from a student’s educational records. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request, any additional party to whom it may be redisclosed, and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information. The record may be reviewed by the eligible student.
Within the Western Connecticut State University community, only those university officials, acting in the student's educational interest are allowed access to student education records. A university official is any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support-staff position; any person appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut State University, and any person employed by or under contract to the university or the State of Connecticut to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor. A university official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is: performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by contract agreement; performing a task related to a student’s education; performing a task relating to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.
At its discretion the university may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the act to include: student name, address, telephone number, photo ID, date of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Office of the Dean of Students in writing. Such a request would be honored until such time students requested in writing that their directory information again be made public.
The law provides students the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records and to have a hearing on the matter. The Vice President for Student Affairs or his designee at Western Connecticut State University has been designated to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student educational records, which include admissions, personal, academic, financial, disciplinary, cooperative education, and placement records. Students wishing to review their educational records must make requests to the Registrar listing the item of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions (e.g., a copy of their academic record for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere). Educational records do not include: records of instructional, administrative and educational personnel, which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute; records of a law enforcement unit; student health records; employment records or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by the physician of the student’s choosing.
Students may not inspect and/or review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student. In this last case, the university will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The university is not required to permit students to inspect and/or review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided these letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purpose for which they were collected.
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss their problems informally with the Office of Student Affairs.
In the event the student’s request, either to have access to a record or to amend information in a file has been denied, the student may ask for a formal hearing. The student must submit a written request for the hearing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The hearing panel will consist of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Academic Dean of his/her school. Decisions of the hearing panel are final. Any alteration to the student’s record will be in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel and will become a permanent part of that record. The student has a right to add a statement to a challenged record if the panel's decision is not to amend the record in accordance with the student's request.
Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the Vice President for Student Affairs to aid them in filing complaints with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202.
Adopted: DOSA May 1989
Revised DOSA June 2010