Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. §1232g, and the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code § 552.001 et. seq., are respectively a federal and state law that provide for the review and disclosure of student educational records. Individuals are informed of their rights under these laws through this policy, which is included in the “Handbook of Operating Procedures” (HOP) and “Undergraduate Catalog.” In accordance with these laws, UTB has adopted the following policy. UTB will not permit access to or the release of information contained in student education records without the written consent of the student to any party, except as follows:
- to appropriate UTB officials who require access to educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties
- to officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, upon request of these officials, and upon the condition that the student be notified and receive a copy of the record if desired
- to federal, state, or local officials or agencies authorized by law
- in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid
- to accrediting organizations or organizations conducting educational studies, provided that these organizations do not release personally identifiable data and destroy such data when it is no longer needed for the purpose it was obtained
- to the parents of a dependent student as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance
- in compliance with a judicial order or subpoena, provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance unless such subpoena specifically directs the institution not to disclose the existence of a subpoena
- in an emergency situation if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the students or other persons
- to an alleged victim of any crime of violence, the results of the alleged perpetrator’s disciplinary proceeding may be released
UTB will release information in student education records to appropriate UTB officials as indicated in (1) above when such records are needed by administrators, faculty or staff in furtherance of the educational and/or business purposes of the student or UTB.
A record of requests for disclosure and such disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records shall be maintained by the Registrar’s Office for each student and will also be made available for inspection pursuant to this policy. If the institution discovers that a third party who has received student records from the institution has released or failed to destroy such records in violation of this policy, it will prohibit access to educational records for five years. Respective records no longer subject to audit, nor presently under request for access, may be purged according to regular schedules.
Complaints regarding alleged failures to comply with the provisions of the FERPA may be submitted in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
At its discretion, UTB may release directory information, which may include:
- name, address, telephone number, e-mail address
- date and place of birth
- major field of study
- participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- dates of attendance
- most recent educational institutions attended
- degrees and awards received
- date of graduation
- physical factors (height and weight) of athletes
Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar’s Office in writing each semester during the first 12 days of class of a fall or spring semester, the first four class days of a summer semester or the first three days of any semester. Request for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution for only the current enrollment period; therefore, a request to withhold directory information must be filed each semester or term in the Registrar’s Office.
Access to File
Upon written request, UTB shall provide a student with access to his or her educational records. The dean of students has been designated by the institutions to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions files, academic files, and financial files. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the dean of students, listing the item or items of interest. Education records covered by the Act will be made available within a reasonable amount of time, but not later than 45 days as recommended by the Department of Education.
A list of education records and those officials for the records shall be maintained at the Registrar’s Office. These include:
- Academic Records
- Department and faculty offices
- Student Services records
- Housing: Director of Housing
- Discipline: Dean of Students
- Student Life Office: Director of Student Life
- Testing: Director of Testing
- Financial Records
- Business Office: Vice President for Business Affairs
- Student Financial Assistance Office: Director of Financial Assistance
Education records do not include:
- financial records of the student’s parent or guardian
- confidential letters of recommendation that were placed in the education records of a student prior to January 1, 1975
- records of instructional, administrative and education personnel that are kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a temporary substitute for maker
- records of law enforcement units
- employment records related exclusively to an individual’s employment capacity
- medical and psychological records
- records that only contain information about an individual after the individual is no longer a student at the institution
Challenge to Record
Students may challenge the accuracy of their educational records. Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy, may discuss their problems informally with the dean of students. If the decisions are in agreement with the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and will be informed by the dean of students of his or her right to a formal hearing.
Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the dean of students, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be at the hearings with one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students’ expense. The hearing officer will adjudicate such challenges and will be appointed by the dean of students in nonacademic matters and by the vice president for Academic Affairs for academic matters.
Decisions of the hearing officer will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of the written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned.
The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing officer, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing officer. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Students who believe that the adjudication of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the president of the institution.
Students may have copies of their educational records. These copies will be made at the student’s expense at rates authorized in the Texas Public Information Act. Official copies of academic records or transcripts will not be released for students who have a delinquent financial obligation at UTB.