Family Education Right and Privacy Act

FERPA

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) students have certain rights concerning their education records, including the right to inspect and review their educational records, the right to request amendment of education records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading, the right to have some control over the disclosure of information derived from their education records, and the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

∑¨«— ”∆Ķ is committed to protecting the rights of students, informing the Thomas More community about FERPA, and ensuring that the University handles educational records and directory information in a secure manner consistent with Federal regulations. ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ has adopted a policy statement to maintain compliance with the FERPA, to ensure the rights of students are protected, and to give guidance to faculty and staff as to the appropriate procedure when handling student records. These guidelines are available in the Registrar‚Äôs Office.


Eligible students who believe that ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ is not complying with the requirements of the FERPA may file complaints in writing with:

Family Policy and Regulations Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington D.C. 20202-4605

Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ (‚Äúthe University‚ÄĚ) has used the following definitions of terms:

Any person who attends or has attended ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ, Villa Madonna College, or the Seminary of St. Pius X.

Any record (in handwriting, print, tapes, diskette, film, or another medium) maintained by ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ or an agent of the University which is directly related to a student, except:

  • A personal record kept by a staff member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and is not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
  • An employment record of an individual whose employment is not contingent on the fact that he or she is a student provided the record is used only in relation to the individual‚Äôs employment.
  • Records maintained by an office in the UniversityŐżif the records are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and this UniversityŐżoffice does not have access to education records maintained by the University.
  • Records maintained by the Health Clinic if the records are used only for treatment of a student and made available only to those persons providing the treatment.
  • Alumni records which contain information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the UniversityŐżand which do not relate to the person as a student.
  • The financial statements of the student‚Äôs parents/guardians.
  • Letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived his or her right of access, or which were placed in file before January 1, 1975.
  • Records connected with an application to attend ∑¨«— ”∆Ķ, Villa Madonna College, or the Seminary of St. Pius X if that application was denied.
  • Those records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records.

Note:ŐżŐżEducation records held by ∑¨«— ”∆ĶŐżare considered the property of the UniversityŐżto which students have rights of access.

Administrative office with official responsibility for the maintenance of student academic records.Őż The only office authorized to release official and unofficial transcripts and verifications.

‚ÄúDirectory Information‚ÄĚ may be released for any purpose at the discretion of the UniversityŐżwhen it is believed to be in the best interest of the student.Őż Under the provisions of FERPA students have theŐżright toŐżwithhold the disclosure of all ‚ÄúDirectory Information‚ÄĚ as follows: student name, address, email address, telephone number, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees, academic honors, and awards received, club and athletic participation records, and photographic, videotaped, and electronic images.Őż The UniversityŐżwill disclose any of these items without prior written consent from the student unless notified in writing by the student to the contrary.Őż The UniversityŐżwill disclose only dates of attendance, enrollment status, major field of study and degrees received via telephone.Őż Other ‚ÄúDirectory Information‚ÄĚ will be disclosed by written response.Őż If the student does not wish to have this information released for any purpose, including the student directory,Őżpress releases, etc., the student must inform the UniversityŐżin writing by the end of the second week of classes in any semester.Őż Notification forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.Őż If the student‚Äôs correspondence is not received in the appropriate office, the UniversityŐżwill disclose the above information until the next notification.Őż Please consider very carefully the consequences of any decision to withhold ‚ÄúDirectory Information.‚ÄĚŐż Should a student decide to inform the UniversityŐżnotŐżto release ‚ÄúDirectory Information,‚ÄĚ requests forŐżALLŐż‚ÄúDirectory Information‚ÄĚ from any third party will be refused.

Once enrolled, students have the right to review their educational records except those excluded by law within 45 days of the day the UniversityŐżreceives a request for access. Students should submit written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect.Őż The UniversityŐżwill make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.

Students have the right to ask the UniversityŐżto have records corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. Following are the procedures for the correction of records:

  • A student must request, in writing, to the UniversityŐżofficial responsible for the record, to amend a record.Őż In so doing, the student shall identify the part of the record he/she wants to be changed and specify why he/she believes it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his/her privacy or other rights.
  • The UniversityŐżmay comply with the request or it may decide not to comply.Őż If it decides not to comply, the UniversityŐżwill notify the student of the decision and advise him/her of his/her right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student‚Äôs rights.
  • Upon request, the UniversityŐżwill arrange for a hearing, and notify the student of the date, place and time of the hearing.
  • The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party; however, the hearing officer may be an official of the institution.Őż The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student‚Äôs education records.
  • The UniversityŐżwill prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
  • If the UniversityŐżdecides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student‚Äôs right of privacy, it will notify the student that he/she has a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information.
  • The statement will be maintained as part of the student‚Äôs education records as long as the contested portion is maintained.Őż If the UniversityŐżdiscloses the contested portion of the record, it will also disclose the statement.
  • If the UniversityŐżdecides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student‚Äôs right of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the student, in writing, that the record has been amended.

With an understanding that it cannot deny students access to their educational records, the following describes the circumstances in which the UniversityŐżmay deny students a copy of their education records if the student has an unpaid financial obligation to the UniversityŐżor if there is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.

All student records will be treated with confidentiality. ŐżUniversity faculty and staff will have access to student records on a ‚Äúneed-to-know‚ÄĚ basis.Őż The office responsible for any particular education record or office requesting information for a legitimate educational interest will be responsible for ensuring that such confidentiality is maintained.

Disclosure of any information other than Directory Information requires a signed release, with original signature, from the student.Őż This may include, but is not limited to, the release of grade point averages, grades, test scores, etc.Őż Such information will not be accepted or released via any electronic or faxed method.

Deceased Students:Őż The UniversityŐżwill not permit the release of educational records of deceased students unless authorized in writing by the executor/executrix of the deceased student‚Äôs estate.

The UniversityŐżwill disclose information from a student‚Äôs education records only with the written consent of the student,Őżexcept:

  • To school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records. A school official is a person employed by the UniversityŐżin an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the UniversityŐżhas contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent); a person serving on the Boards of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest 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‚Äôs education, or performing a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, The Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with certain state or federally supported education programs.
  • In connection with a student‚Äôs request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
  • If required by a state law requiring disclosure that was adopted before November 19, 1974.
  • To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the University.
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions.
  • To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena after a reasonable attempt is made to notify the student.Őż The UniversityŐżis not required to give prior notice when responding to a Federal grand jury subpoena or other law enforcement subpoena that states the student not be informed; and that the contents of or existence of the subpoena not be disclosed.
  • To comply with State statutes in connection with a juvenile justice system.
  • To a court when the UniversityŐżinitiates legal action against a student and gives the student prior notice of the intended disclosure.
  • To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.

Note:ŐżŐżThe University will be prohibited from permitting specific third party access to personally identifiable student information for a period of five years if that third party rediscloses personally identifiable student information in violation of FERPA.

The Solomon Amendment mandates that institutions must fulfill military requests for student recruiting information.Őż Federal law defines student recruiting information as name, address, telephone number, age or date of birth, class level, academic major, place of birth, degrees received, and most recent educational institution attended.Őż Requests can also include additional directory information as defined by the institution, such as email address.Őż Students who have elected to withhold directory information will not have their information released under the Solomon Amendment.

The UniversityŐżmay, at its discretion, release student educational records only under the following circumstances:

  1. through the written consent of the student,Őżi.e. academic records;
  2. in compliance with a subpoena; or
  3. by submission of evidence that the parents or guardians declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax form (Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152),Őżi.e., student financial account records or notarized statement of intent to claim the student as a dependent.

The UniversityŐżwill maintain a record of all legitimate written disclosures of a student‚Äôs educational record released without student‚Äôs signature as set forth in the exceptions noted above.

  • Students will be notified of their FERPA rights annually by publication in all student handbooks published by Student Development/Dean of Students and the Accelerated Programs/Center for Adult and Professional Education.
  • Other notification may be made available through publication in the UniversityŐżCatalogue and the Faculty Policy Manual.Őż Also, handouts will be made available at all times in the Office of the Registrar.

The following is a list of the types of education records that ∑¨«— ”∆ĶŐżmaintains, their locations, and their custodians.

TypesLocationsCustodians
Admission RecordsOffice of AdmissionsDirector of Admissions
Office of Accelerated
Programs
Director of Lifelong
Learning
Cumulative Academic RecordsOffice of the RegistrarRegistrar
Financial Aid RecordsFinancial Aid OfficeDirector of Financial Aid
Office of Accelerated
Programs
Assistant Director of Financial Aid-TAP
Student Account RecordsBursar’s OfficeBursar
Office of Accelerated ProgramsStudent Accounts-TAP
Health RecordsCampus Health CenterNurse Coordinator
Disciplinary and Student Housing RecordsStudent Life OfficeDirector of Student Life
Career Planning and Co-Op RecordsOffice of Career Planning and Cooperative EducationDirector of Cooperative Education
Athletic RecordsAthletic DepartmentAthletic Director
Immigration and Naturalization RecordsInternational Student ServicesDirector of International Student Services