Faculty and FERPA
Below, you will find answers to some common questions faculty have about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
A full suite of FERPA resources, including an online tutorial, can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website at http://registrar.nd.edu/students/ferpa.php.
Does FERPA apply to student records that are on my hard drive, or to paper records that are converted to electronic files?
Yes. FERPA applies to all student records and information, regardless of how that information is recorded. Thus, FERPA applies to paper and electronic files just as it applies to audio and video tapes and files.
Does FERPA apply to references to students made on social media?
Yes. We generally should not disclose student education records or even directory information on social media without the consent of the student. School officials who wish to publish a student’s directory information (on paper, online, or on social media) should first confirm with the Registrar whether the student has “opted out” of the disclosure of directory information.
What should I do when a parent asks for access to their child’s records?
Parents stand in the same shoes as any other outside party and should have their child request any copies of the educational records in question.
I have a student who wants to review his/her education record. Should I provide it to him/her?
Students who want to inspect and review their educational records should be directed to the Office of General Counsel. The Office of General Counsel has a procedure in place for requesting records and providing students with access to those records.
Can I publicly post grades by Student ID or Social Security Number?
No. Students’ grades are “educational records.” Thus, it is a violation of FERPA to publicly post grades by a student’s name, Social Security Number, or institutional student identification number, without the student’s written permission. This prohibition extends to the posting of grades:
- to a class/institutional website;
- publicly or online for students taking education courses remotely; and
- where numeric student identifier numbers (including the last four digits of the Social Security Number) are used in lieu of students’ names (since these identifiers are considered potentially identifiable information).
A student is sitting on a University committee or panel that has access to student records. Is this a violation of FERPA?
No. According to the University’s FERPA policy, students serving on a University committee or panel are considered “school officials.” If students serve on a committee that will have access to the records of other students, the student committee members should clearly understand their responsibilities with that access—in the same manner as other “school officials.”
I received a subpoena for a student’s educational record. Should I comply with the subpoena?
No. All subpoenas should be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel, who will determine if the subpoena is validly issued and will act accordingly.
An undergraduate student has asked me to write a letter of recommendation as part of his/her application to a graduate program in the University. Can I access the student’s educational record to ascertain if the student was subsequently admitted to the program?
No. Because knowing the student’s admission status is not considered part of your job functions, there is no Legitimate Educational Interest to justify your access of these files.