FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA)
(BUCKLEY AMENDMENT, 20 U.S.C. 1230, 1232G)
Annually, Coastal Alabama Community College informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This Act, with which the institution fully complies, was designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Also, students have the right to file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the Act. In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, students under the age of 21 who commit a violation of drug and alcohol policies and laws will have such violation(s) reported to their parents/guardians. Local policy explains in detail the procedures to be used by the institution for compliance with the provisions of the Act. Copies of the policy are available to students in the Registrar’s Office. Questions concerning the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act may be referred to the office of the Registrar.
STUDENT RECORDS POLICY
Coastal Alabama Community College compiles and maintains information about students which facilitates educational development of the student and effective administration of the College. To better guarantee the rights of privacy as provided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Buckley Amendment, 20 U.S.C. 1230, 1232g), Coastal Alabama Community College has adopted the following policies and procedures:
Coastal Alabama Community College shall not permit access to or the release of education records or personally identifiable information contained therein, other than directory information as defined within the paragraph titled Directory Information, without the written consent of the student, to any party other than the following:
- Other school officials and teachers of the College who have been determined by the College to have legitimate educational interests;
- Officials of those schools or school systems in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, upon the condition that the student may receive a copy of the record if desired, and have an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the record;
- Certain authorized representatives of federal departments or agencies or state educational authorities for purposes of audits, evaluative studies, etc. Data collected will be protected in a way which prevents personal identification except when specifically authorized by federal law. The data will be destroyed when no longer needed for such purposes;
- In connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid;
- State and local officials or authorities to which such information is specifically required to be reported or disclosed pursuant to State statute adopted prior to November 19, 1974;
- Organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions for the purpose of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs and improving instruction, if such studies are conducted in such a manner as will not permit the personal identification of students by persons other than representatives of such organizations and such information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purpose for which it is conducted;
- Accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting functions;
- Parents of a student who is a dependent for income tax purposes;
- Pursuant to a lawful subpoena or court order;
- Other appropriate persons in an emergency to protect the health or safety of the student or others. Students shall have access to all such information in accordance with the procedure outlined in this statement with the exceptions specified within the following paragraph.
DEFINITION OF EDUCATION RECORDS
Student educational records are defined as those records, files, documents and other materials which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by the College or by a person acting for the College. Specifically excluded from the definition of “educational records” and not open to student inspection are the following materials:
- Records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and accessible only to the maker or a designated assistant to the maker;
- Records of campus security, except in those instances where they have been transmitted within the College for administrative purposes;
- Records which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or para-professional acting in a professional or para-professional capacity or assisting in that capacity and which are created, maintained or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment or who could not be involved officially within the College, but such records are available to a physician or appropriate professional of the student’s choice.
DEFINITION OF STUDENT
For the purpose of this policy, “student” means any person who has been enrolled in and is attending or has attended any course offering of Coastal Alabama Community College. It does not include prospective students.
The following categories of information with respect to each student have been designated by the College as directory information which may be made available to the public, absent a student’s request that any such information should not be released without the student’s prior consent:
- Student’s name, address, telephone number;
- Dates of attendance;
- The most recent previous educational agencies or institutions attended by the student;
- Weight and height of a member of an athletic team;
- Major and minor fields of study, degree desired, and classification;
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports; and/or
- Degrees and awards received (i.e., Dean’s List, Who’s Who, etc.).
If any student has an objection to any of the aforementioned information being released about himself/herself during any given semester or academic year, the student should notify in writing the appropriate campus Registrar, during the first three weeks of the respective semester or academic year.
The student has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The address of the office that administers FERPA is the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
LOCATION OF RECORDS
The College has designated the following offices as responsible for student records within their respective areas of responsibility:
- Instructional Office
- Student Services Office
- Business Office
- Financial Aid Office
- Student Development Office
The administrators in the aforementioned offices shall hereinafter be referred to as “records officials.” Each official is responsible for maintaining a listing of student records within such records official’s area of responsibility, which listing shall indicate the location and general content of the records. Any student request concerning his or her records or files, including requests that information not be disclosed to the public, requests for disclosure to third parties, and requests for access by the student shall be directed to the appropriate records official. Forms for all such requests may be obtained from these officials. The appropriate records official will also attempt to resolve any challenges to the records at an informal hearing with the student and, if an agreeable solution is not reached, the records official will refer the student and his challenge to the Vice-President of Student Services, who shall set a hearing within 10 days thereafter for final decision.
ACCESS OF STUDENT RECORDS TO STUDENTS
The student is afforded the right to inspect and review, in the presence of a College staff member, any records, files and data directly related to the student. To inspect his or her personal folder or file, a student shall submit a written request to the appropriate records official signed by the student and, if not personally submitted by the student, then the student’s signature shall be acknowledged by the affidavit of a Notary Public. The request for inspection shall be acted upon within 45 days from the date such request is received. If, in the opinion of the appropriate records official, inspection can reasonably be accomplished by providing copies of documents, such copies shall be made and provided to the student.
LIMITATIONS ON ACCESS
The right of inspection of personal information described in the above paragraph does not include:
- Financial records of the parents of the student or any information contained therein;
- Confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records prior to January 1, 1975. If such letters or statements are not used for purposes other than those for which they were specifically intended; or,
- Other confidential records, access to which has been waived by the student in accordance with policy concerning waivers.
CHALLENGING THE CONTENTS OF THE RECORD
If, after inspecting his or her record, a student wishes an explanation or to challenge any part of the contents of such record, then the student shall submit a written request for a hearing in the same manner and under the same procedures as provided within the preceding paragraph titled Location of Records. The request for hearing should identify the item or items in the file to be challenged and state the grounds for the challenge, e.g., inaccuracy, misleading nature, inappropriateness, etc. The records official shall examine the contested item, shall hear the person responsible for placing the item in the file if appropriate and possible, and shall examine any documents or hear any testimony the student wishes to present. The records official may decide that the contested item should be retained or that it should be deleted or revised or he may refer the matter to the hearing officer who shall set a hearing within 10 days thereafter for final decision. In the event any part of the challenged item is retained, the student shall be allowed to place a written explanation thereof in the file. A written decision shall be delivered or mailed to the student within 10 days from the date such hearing is concluded, either by the records official or the hearing officer.
WAIVER OF ACCESS
A student or a person applying for admission may waive his or her right of access to confidential statements concerning that student’s application for admission, financial aid, employment, honorary recognition or any other benefit made available by Coastal Alabama. The student may sign and return the waiver or may request a list of the names of persons who will be asked for recommendations as to such application prior to signing and returning such waiver or the student may decline to waive the right of access. No such application shall be conditioned upon or prejudiced by the student’s failure or refusal to sign such waiver.
PROVIDING RECORDS TO THIRD PARTIES
The policy of Coastal Alabama Community College is to refuse access to student records to third parties without the written consent of a student except as provided within the preceding General Policy and Directory Information paragraphs. Any records pertaining to a student, which are not excluded by the provisions of the paragraph titled Definition of Educational Records, shall be released upon receipt of that student’s written requests directed to the proper records official specifying the records to be released, the reason for such release, the person to whom the records are to be released, and whether a copy thereof is also to be furnished the student.
TRANSFER OF INFORMATION BY THIRD PARTIES
Any information released under the preceding paragraph shall be expressly conditioned upon the understanding that the party to which the information is being transferred will not permit any other party to have access to such information without the consent of the student. Such conditional understanding shall be in writing, and included in or attached to each release of information.
Coastal Alabama shall maintain a record, kept with the education records of each student, which will indicate all parties (other than those specified within the paragraph titled General Policy) which have requested or obtained access to a student’s education records. This record will indicate specifically the legitimate interest that each such party has in obtaining this information. Such record of access shall be available only to the student, to the school official and his assistants who are responsible for the custody of such records, and to persons or organizations authorized in, and under the conditions of the paragraph titled General Policy, 1 and 3, as a means of auditing the operation of the system.
DESTRUCTION OF RECORDS
Coastal Alabama Community College retains the right, if not otherwise precluded by law, to destroy records as a matter of policy. However, upon written request, a student shall be granted access to and copies of his or her records, which are not excluded by the provisions included within the paragraph titled Definition of Educational Records, prior to the destruction of such records. Absent such a request on file prior to destruction, no copy of records to be destroyed need be furnished the student.