5.14- Student Records – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

A.    Purpose

To establish the rights related to the release of and access to student education records as outlined within the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

B.    Policy

The college will protect a student’s privacy and provide them access to their educational records as outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

C.    Procedures

The Registrar’s Office ensures compliance with FERPA, and this office should be contacted with any questions or concerns about this policy.

Student Rights

Beginning with the first day of the student’s instruction period of any enrolled or registered course at OTC, the student has the following rights under FERPA:

  • The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within forty-five (45) calendar days from receipt of the request.
  • The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
  • The right to provide written consent before the college discloses or withholds personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

Disclosure Conditions

Below is a non-exhaustive list of parties and conditions under which FERPA allows the college to disclose education records without consent (other exceptions can be found at 34 CFR § 99.31):

  • To school officials with a legitimate educational interest.
  • To officials at another college or postsecondary institution where the student seeks or intends to enroll or has enrolled.
  • In connection with the application for, or receipt of, financial aid.
  • To accrediting organizations.
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
  • When there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals.
  • When the information has been classified by the college as directory information.
  • To entities conducting approved educational research projects when the records are de-identified through removal of all personally identifiable information.

Directory Information

Directory information is data about a student which can be released without prior consent because it would not generally be considered to be harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.

Unless the college has been notified by the student that directory information about them is not to be released, the college may release such information at its discretion and without further permission. The college reserves the right to not disclose directory information in some situations or may choose to limit the scope of the release to specific parties, for specific purposes, or both, even if a student has not opted-out of such disclosures.

Opting Out of Directory Information Disclosure

Students who do not wish to permit the distribution of directory information should notify the registrar’s office in writing.

Requesting Access to Record

When a student would like to inspect or review an education record, the student should submit a request to the registrar. If the records are not maintained by the college official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

The college reserves the right to have a school official present during a student’s review of their education records.

The right of inspection and review includes the right to access and an explanation of the record. It does not include the right to a copy of the education record except in limited circumstances when failure to provide a copy would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record (e.g., the student lives outside of a reasonable commuting distance from the college).

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect or review their student’s education records. This right is limited solely to the student.

The college does not have to permit a student to inspect and review education records that are:

  • Financial records of their parents;
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendations, written under the presumption of confidentiality, for admission to an educational institution or program.

Students may authorize the release of education records protected by FERPA to designated parties by using the college’s consent to release student information form.

Amendment to Student Record

A student who wishes to ask the college to amend a record should write the college official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants to be changed and specify why it should be changed. If the college decides not to amend the record as requested, the college will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. The hearing will be conducted by the dean of students who shall ensure compliance with its procedures.

The following procedures will be followed for the hearing:

  • A hearing officer who has no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing will be appointed who shall afford the student full opportunity to present evidence in support of the challenge. The appointment of this unassociated hearing officer shall rest with the dean of students.
  • The hearing shall be held within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed thirty (30) business days under normal circumstances, after the institution has received the request, and the student shall be given notice of the date, place and time reasonably in advance of the hearing.
  • The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues and may be assisted or represented by individuals of their choice at their own expense, including an attorney.
  • The hearing officer shall render a decision within a reasonable time after the hearing, not to exceed thirty (30) business days, and inform the student in writing of the outcome. The decision shall be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing and shall include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.
  • If the hearing officer decides that the record is not inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the student, the student shall then have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting upon the information in the education record and/or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing official. Any such written explanation then becomes a part of the education record. If the education record of the student or the contested portion thereof is disclosed to any party, the explanation shall also be disclosed to that party.

Requesting an amendment to an education record is not the proper avenue for challenging course grades (unless the allegation is that the grade was inaccurately entered into a record). A student may challenge a final course grade by using the procedure in Policy 2.62 Academic and Course Grade Appeal.
A form is available for this purpose.

Solomon Amendment

Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows military recruiters to access some address, biographical and academic program information on students age seventeen (17) and older who have not filed any FERPA restrictions.

The Department of Education has determined the Solomon Amendment supersedes most elements of FERPA. The college is obligated to release data which may or may not match our FERPA directory information list.

Complaints

Students have 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 name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202-5920

D.    Definitions

Education Record is any record maintained by the college that is directly related to a student and includes, but is not limited to, grades, transcripts, and disciplinary files. Education records can exist in any medium, including hardcopy, typed, or electronic. However, there are some exclusions from the definition of education records, including:

  • Records kept in the sole possession of the maker, that are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record;
  • Records of the college’s law enforcement unit that are created by it for law enforcement purposes and maintained by it;
  • Records relating to an individual who is employed by the college (except if the individual is a student employed as a result of their status as a student) that are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to the individual in that individual’s capacity as an employee and are not available for any other purpose;
  • Records on a student eighteen (18) years of age or older made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in their professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity so long as the records are made, maintained or used only in connection with treatment of the student and are disclosed only to individuals providing treatment or creating an accommodation plan;
  • Records created or received by this college after the student is no longer in attendance and not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student.

Legitimate Educational Interest is the need of a school official to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities for the college.

School Official is a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the college has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using college employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks.

Semester is one of three main periods of instruction into which an academic year is divided; fall, spring, and summer semester.

Term is a designated period of academic instruction within a semester. Each semester may contain multiple terms of varying lengths.

E.    Authority

This policy and these procedures are maintained under the authority of the vice chancellor of student affairs.

F.    Related Policies

2.62 – Academic and Course Grade Appeal

G.    Implementation

09/11/2006

Revised policy approved by Chancellor’s Cabinet 04/16/2024 and Board of Trustees 05/08/2024.

Set for review 2026-2027.