Policy and Privacy Rights of Students
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, grants students certain rights of access to their educational records, protects the privacy of these records and requires that all students be informed of all rights and safeguards.
The university is responsible for protecting the privacy of student records in accordance with FERPA. If the university fails to comply, the Department of Education may issue a notice to cease the practice complained of and could ultimately withhold funds administered by the Secretary of Education.
Education records are defined as records that are:
- Directly related to a student; and
- Maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
Accessible records are those educational records maintained by NDNU, which concern information directly related to a student. Those students who have actually attended NDNU may have access to accessible records concerning them by appearing in person and submitting a request in writing to the Registrar’s Office. Students have the right to copies of accessible records, except for transcripts from other colleges and universities and letters of recommendation if they have waived their rights.
Under FERPA students have the right to:
- Inspect and review information contained in their educational records;
- Challenge the contents of their educational records;
- Request a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory;
- Submit an explanatory statement for inclusion in the educational records, if the outcome of the hearing is unsatisfactory;
- Secure a copy of the institutional policy regarding privacy rights;
- File complaints with the Department of Education concerning alleged failure to comply with FERPA.
What FERPA says about parents:
- When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a post-secondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.
- Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution.
- Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determined that their child is legally their dependent.
- Even if not a dependent, an institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record under the alcohol or controlled substance exception.
- Even if not a dependent, an institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individual.
- Parents may also obtain non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their child (Third Party Authorization).
Students have the right to consent to the review of their accessible records by others. A Third Party Authorization request for such review must be submitted in writing with the written signature of the student to the Registrar’s Office.
It is the policy of NDNU to release official records only upon the written and signed consent of the student and upon payment of a fee for each official transcript. To protect each student, a record is kept of transcripts issued and any persons or institutions (other than NDNU officials) that have, upon student consent, been granted access to the student’s records. Records of access will be available upon student request.
The Student’s Right of Non-Disclosure Under FERPA:
- A student may have any or all such information withheld by written request to the Registrar’s Office only while in attendance.
- Students who have left the institution do not have the right of non-disclosure, but the institution may honor that request if it wishes.
- The non-disclosure remains in effect until the student directs the institution to remove it. This is true after the student has ceased attendance at the institution.
The following records may not be inspected:
- Financial records of parents
- Confidential letters and recommendations written prior to January 1, 1975
- Confidential letters and recommendations concerning admission, employment and honors for which the student has signed a waiver of right to access. The student will be given the name of those persons writing such letters.
- Records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist and psychologist acting in a professional capacity. A physician, psychiatrist and psychologist of the student’s choice may review such records.
- Records of NDNU personnel who are the sole possession of the maker are not made available to other persons
The following information is defined as Directory Information and may be released without student consent:
- Student’s Name
- Address (campus, local and/or permanent)
- Telephone numbers
- Date and place of birth
- Major field of study and classification
- Dates of attendance, degrees, and honors received
- Most recent previous educational institution attended
- Weight and height of members of intercollegiate athletic teams
In addition to the student, the following persons, serving in official capacities, have the right to access students’ records:
- University officials who have a legitimate educational interest in a student’s records;
- Officials of other universities who have a legitimate educational interest in a student’s records; universities in which a student seeks to enroll;
- Certain government officials acting in their legitimate functions;
- Those persons and agencies seeking records in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid;
- Certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the controller general, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with certain state or federally supported educational programs;
- Authorities acting in compliance with a judicial or order or pursuant to any lawfully issued subpoena;
- Accrediting agencies, and certain government officials acting in their official capacities;
- In an emergency, appropriate persons if knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons. (According to 34 C.F.R. 99.36, the wording of this section “shall be strictly construed”).
A Notre Dame de Namur official is:
- A person employed by the institution in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, public safety, health staff personnel or support staff position;
- A person serving on an institutional governing body;
- A person employed by or under contract to the institution to perform a special task, such as an attorney or an auditor;
- A person or organization acting as an official agent of the institution and performing a business function or service on behalf of the institution;
- A student serving on Undergraduate or Graduate Academic Standards, Judicial Committee, Leadership Committee; or
- A student assisting another school official in fulfilling his or her professional responsibilities (work study, student labor, tutors).
A Notre Dame de Namur official has a legitimate educational interest (a demonstrated need to know) if the official is:
- Performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement;
- Performing a task related to a student’s education;
- Performing a task related to a disciplinary action regarding the student;
- Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.