Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
Orange Coast College & FERPA
WHAT IS FERPA (FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS & PRIVACY ACT)?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.
WHAT ARE EDUCATION RECORDS?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer-generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.
Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:
- Sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student)
- Medical treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists. These records are usually protected under another law—Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment
- Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit (campus safety) used for only that purpose, that are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records
ACCESS TO STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS
College officials (defined as any person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, or a person employed by or under contract to the College to perform a specific task) are permitted to access FERPA protected information IF they have a "legitimate educational interest". A “legitimate educational interest” is one that is specified in the college official’s position, description, or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student's education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family (such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid) or disclosure of information in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena.
According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released to anyone but a college official without prior written consent from the student. Listed below are examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student:
- Disciplinary status
- Grade-point average (GPA)
- Number of units completed
- SSN/student I.D.
- Grades/exam scores
- Test scores (e.g., placement tests, CLEP, AP, SAT, etc.)
- Progress reports
Orange Coast College will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Regardless of the student’s age, parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization. In order to provide written authorization the student must complete the Student Information Release and submit the form to the Enrollment Center window on the first floor of Watson Hall. The student must show a government issued photo id when submitting the form.
For Financial Aid information - Summer 2016 through Summer 2017.
Orange Coast College may release student directory information upon request, provided such release is approved by the College president or a designee. The president or a designee may limit or deny the release
of specific categories of directory information based upon a determination of the best interests of the student.
Directory information is defined to mean one or more of the following:
- Student’s name.
- City of residence.
- Date and place of birth.
- Major field of study.
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams.
- Dates of attendance.
- Degrees and awards received.
- Previous public or private school attended.
Students may block directory information from being shared where permitted by completing a FERPA Block Request.pdf
and submitting the form in-person to the Enrollment Services window on the first floor of Watson Hall.
EXCEPTIONS FOR RELEASING NON-DIRECTORY INFORMATION FOR SAFETY REASONS
Should a situation arise in which there is a need to release a student’s information, without the student’s consent, in order to ensure the safety of the student and/or others, an administrator at the college shall be notified. The administrator, taking into account the totality of the circumstances pertaining to a threat to the safety or health of the student or other individuals, will release the information to the appropriate party as applicable. The administrator will document the following and forward the information to the custodian of records: (Director of Admissions, Records & Enrollment Technology)
- The significant threat that formed the basis for the disclosure
- The information disclosed
- The date the information was disclosed
- The parties to whom the information was disclosed
Once received, the custodian of records is responsible for recording and maintaining this information in the student’s permanent record.
In some situations, a school may determine that it is necessary to disclose non-directory information to appropriate parties in order to address a disaster or other health or safety emergency. FERPA permits school officials to disclose, without consent, education records, or personally identifiable information from education records, to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of that information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. This exception to FERPA’s general consent requirement is temporally limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable information from the student’s education records.