The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA also protects students' right to inspect and review their record, request corrections, and limit access to their education record (US Department of Education).
FERPA protects all current and former students (including those under the age of 18) who are attending, or did attend, a post-secondary institution that receives certain kinds of federal funding (US Department of Education). FERPA protects all current and former Fort Lewis College students of any classification (i.e. undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, and unclassified). It does not protect the records of deceased students or prospective students who applied but never attended. Records, such as application materials, are not considered protected education records until a student is officially "attending" FLC, which begins on the day the student registers for classes.
FERPA defines "education records" as those records that are:
FERPA does not require that a college keep all student records. Determinations regarding which records to maintain are made by Fort Lewis College in accordance institutional policy and state and federal regulations.
As listed in §99.3 of FERPA, the following are NOT considered education records:
FERPA establishes a student's right to access and request amendments to their education record, and to file a complaint with the Department of Education if they feel that their FERPA rights have been violated.
ACCESS: A student has the right to inspect and review their education records within three days of the day the College receives their request for access. The student needs to submit a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect to Skyhawk Station, the Registrar's Office, a dean, the head of an academic department, or other appropriate official. The College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the College official to whom the request was submitted does not maintain the records, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be made.
AMENDMENTS/CORRECTIONS: A student has the right to request an amendment to, or correction of, their education records if the student believes that record to be inaccurate or misleading. To initiate this process, the student needs to submit a written request to the College official responsible for the record, in which they clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
Generally, Fort Lewis College is not permitted to disclose a student's personally identifiable information (PII) or education record to anyone other than the student without that student's prior written consent. However, there are exceptions (FERPA §99.31).
The circumstances under which Fort Lewis College may disclose information from a student's education record without the student's consent include, but may not be limited to, the following:
A "school official" is defined as:
A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:
What is NOT a "legitimate educational interest"?
Under FERPA, institutions may, but are not required to, disclose "directory information" pertaining to a student without that student's consent or knowledge. To ensure that students are aware of what information is considered "directory", the College sends out an annual notification reminding them of this policy and providing a list of items considered directory information.
Students may request confidentiality of their education record, including their directory information, at any time. Please see the next section for details.
At Fort Lewis College, the following is considered "directory information":
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although Fort Lewis College has designated the information listed above as directory information, FLC officials disclose only a limited amount of this information on a routine basis. The College retains the right to refuse disclosure of directory information if it believes such disclosure would be an infringement on student privacy rights, or if disclosure would put the student in danger.
*As outlined in College policy, FLC recognizes that some faculty, staff, and students may prefer to use a first name other than their legal name. The College is committed to making every effort to use preferred first names whenever possible in the course of College business and education. This includes, but it is not limited to, the use of preferred first names in email address, directory listings, recognitions, and any printed materials. Please be aware that, when communicating with a third party about a student, it may be necessary to use their legal name, rather than their preferred name.
Although Fort Lewis College may release directory information, FLC officials disclose only a limited amount of this information on a routine basis. The College retains the right to refuse disclosure of directory information if it believes such disclosure would infringe on student privacy rights, or if disclosure would put the student in danger.
Students may also make their education record completely confidential at any time, should they so choose, using our Confidentiality/Student Record Privacy Request form. Students can also remove a confidentiality restriction at any time. If a student requests that their record remain confidential:
To avoid violating FERPA:
It is a FERPA violation to publicly post grades by student's names or ID numbers without their written consent. Faculty and staff who wish to publicly post grades must either obtain students' written consent or use randomly generated numbers known only to the instructor and individual students to whom those numbers have been assigned.
Do not notify students of their grades via postcard.
Fort Lewis College cannot guarantee that email messages will remain confidential. As such, telling students about their grades via email is not recommended. Fort Lewis College would be held responsible in the event that an unauthorized third-party gained access to a student’s educational record sent via email.
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent/legal guardian to the student. Faculty and staff are strictly prohibited from releasing any of a student's education record information to parent(s)/legal guardian(s), unless the student has signed a FERPA release for that person. /p>
IMPORTANT: Even if a student has signed a FERPA release for their parent/legal guardian or another person, faculty and staff are under no obligation to divulge any information about that student, or even to speak with a parent/legal guardian. A FERPA release grants the College permission to disclose information; it does not imply a right to view or alter records. /span>
Faculty and staff can see whether or not there is a FERPA waiver on file for a particular student on WebOPUS (see below). Should a parent/legal guardian contact you regarding their student, you must check for this authorization prior to releasing any information. If authorization does not exist, you must not discuss the student with their parent/legal guardian.
To check a student's FERPA release information, follow the steps below: /p>
You must obtain the student's written consent before disclosing any education record information in a letter of recommendation. This includes grades and GPA. You do not need a student's consent to include information not contained in the student's education record, including personal observations, professional opinion, etc.
If you do intend to disclose information from a student's education records, you must obtain their written consent that specifies the record(s) to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the parties to whom that disclosure will be made.& Unless a student waives their right to access that letter in the future, it will become part of the education record, and will thus be available to them. If you do not want your letter to be available to the student, make sure the student includes a statement waiving their right to access the letter in the future.
Do not, under any circumstances, discuss a student's education record with the media, even if that record has already been made public. FLC officials are not permitted to publicly discuss a student's education record even if the student has already done so themselves or if that information has been made public through a lawsuit. If you receive an inquiry from the media, contact the Fort Lewis College Public Affairs Officer.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Registrar's Office by phone at (970) 247-7350 or by email.