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Faculty/Staff

FERPA for Faculty and Staff

FERPA OVERVIEW FOR FACULTY AND STAFF AT UT ARLINGTON

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a federal law which pertains to the release of and access to student education records.  In compliance with FERPA, employees of the University of Texas at Arlington have the legal obligation to protect the privacy of students and the confidentiality of student records.

Also known as the Buckley Amendment, this law applies to all schools which receive funds under an applicable program of the US Department of Education.

UT Arlington has established policies relating to the accessibility of student information in its custody, which are discussed below.

Key concepts every UT Arlington faculty and staff member should be aware of include:

  • student’s rights under FERPA
  • written permission requirement for disclosure of student education record
  • parents’ right of access to student records
  • exceptions to the written permission requirement
  • legitimate educational interest

UT Arlington requires its employees to use safe methods to identify and authenticate the identity of students, parents, school officials and all other parties before disclosing education records.

Student records for courses delivered by distance education and face-to-face must have the same level of security and access.

FERPA AND STUDENTS AT UT ARLINGTON

Definition of Student:

At UT Arlington, FERPA rights apply to a student.  A student is a person who has been admitted and is registered when classes are in session, regardless of the person's age.

Student Rights Under FERPA

Under FERPA, a student has a right to:

  • require the University obtain his or her prior written consent before releasing personally identifiable information from education records;
  • inspect his or her education records;
  • request corrections be made to education records if the student believes the records are inaccurate or misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.

Directory Information

FERPA applies both to the education record and to the personally identifiable information within the record, which is called directory-type information. The directory-type information that may be made available by UT Arlington for its students is:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Electronic mail address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in recognized activities and sports
  • Height & weight of athletes
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees & awards received
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended

Students who do not permit release of this information are identified with a service indicator showing a window shade in MyMav.  For students with this service indicator, no data can be released from the student’s record without the student’s express written permission, except as authorized by law.

Inspection and Amendment of Education Records

At UT Arlington, an education record is defined as any information recorded in any way, including but not limited to handwriting, print, tape, film, microfilm, microfiche and digital image.

Under FERPA, students have a right to see, inspect and request changes to their education records.  In order to inspect education records, a student should submit a written request, identifying the records to be inspected, to the UT Arlington Office of Records and Registration with attention: Associate Registrar.  Written requests to access records will receive a response within a reasonable time, but not more than forty-five days after submission.  A University official will arrange for access and will notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  Records which are not subject to review are outlined below.  If the records contain information on more than one student, then the requesting student may inspect, review or be informed on only the specific information about his or her own records.  A student may obtain copies of his or her education records at a cost of ten cents per page and an official transcript of academic record for seven dollars.

The contents of a student's education records may be challenged by the student on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student.  This can be done by submitting a written statement to the custodian of records.  The Vice President for Business Affairs and Controller is the official custodian of records at the University.  The student should clearly identify the part of the record they want changed and specify why it should be changed.

If UT Arlington decides not to amend the record as requested, then the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s 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.

Student Privacy Preferences

Students who request restrictions to their record will not be included in the following:

  • Commencement program
  • Microsoft-hosted Student Email system (address book allowing student-to-student access)
  • UT Arlington web site “Find People”
  • UT Arlington printed Campus Directory “Maverick Connection”
  • Requests from external entities seeking directory information on UTA students whose requests are approved by the custodian of records for UT Arlington

Additional information and instructions for setting privacy elections in MyMav

FERPA AND PARENTS

Once a student attains the age of 18 or attends an institution of higher education regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student and the parent has no inherent right of access to the student’s education record.

Up to the time a student attends an institution of higher education, regardless of age, FERPA rights reside with the parents.  Students can give express written permission for their parents' access to their education record by submitting the Student Release of Information form. Once received, a positive Service Indicator (PRI) will be placed on the student's file to indicate that there is a release form. In addition, a copy of the form will be in the student's file in ImageNow.

Records may be released to parents without a signed consent from the student under certain exceptions.  These include:

  • In a health or safety emergency
  • Where the student has violated a law or the school’s policies governing alcohol or substance abuse, but only if the student is under 21 years old
  • By submission of evidence in which the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax form.

Parents who wish to access their student's education records without the express written permission of the student may provide a copy of the previous year's tax form demonstrating the student is a dependent for tax purposes to the Office of Records, University of Texas at Arlington, Room 129 Davis Hall.  Income data on the tax record can be redacted. 

In a legal separation or divorce situation, biological parents have equal standing as custodial parents to gain access to the student’s education records.

If you as a faculty member have questions or concerns about the handling of inquiries from parents or others, then you may contact Shannon Williams, Associate Registrar.  Direct line is 817/272-6105 and email is swilliams@uta.edu.

LEGITIMATE EDUCATIONAL INTEREST

Employees of UT Arlington cannot disclose personally identifiable information contained in student education records without the express written permission of the student, except as authorized by law. 

A key exception impacting UT Arlington faculty and staff is the “need to know” exception in which information from the student record is needed for the instructor, staff member or administrator to perform his or her legitimate educational duties. 

A school official is deemed to have a legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for the official to:

  • perform appropriate tasks specified in the position description or contract;
  • perform a task related to a student’s education;
  • perform a task related to the discipline of a student;
  • provide a service or benefit relating to the student:  health care, counseling, job placement, etc.

Having a legitimate educational interest does not constitute authorization to share information with a third party.

WHEN DISCLOSURE IS PERMITTED WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT OF THE STUDENT

Education records are all records containing information directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting on its behalf.  UT Arlington students have the right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent in which FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. 

The University of Texas at Arlington will disclose information from a student’s education record without the written consent of the student:

  • To appropriate University administrators, faculty members, staff members and outside service providers, such as contractors and consultants, who require access to education records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties.  This includes staff from our Accelerated Online Programs, previously Higher Education Holdings, who contract with UT Arlington to offer the Accelerated Online programs.  This also includes student workers who at any time may access student records as a part of their duties.  UT Arlington restricts and tracks access to education records to enforce the “legitimate education interests” requirement in this exception; (also discussed above)
  • In connection with a student's application, establishing eligibility and conditions or receiving receipt of financial aid.  UT Arlington contracts with the National Student Clearinghouse to provide enrollment and degree data to lenders and guarantors;
  • To officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, upon request;
  • To college or agency officials at the sending institution which originally created the education record, such as a transcript;
  • To law enforcement officers with a subpoena;
  •  To the UT Arlington campus police department and other law enforcement agencies, information received under a community notification program concerning students who are required to register as sex offenders in the state, as governed by the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act.

BEST PRACTICES FOR GRADE-RELATED ACTIVITIES

UT Arlington faculty is encouraged to use the greatest precautions in communicating with students regarding their grades.  The recommended best practice is to have the student access his/her grade through the MyMav student center.  While UT Arlington does not consider the emailing of grades a best practice, we ask you strictly follow these guidelines in the event you need to email a grade to a student.

  • You may only email grades to the student’s official UTA email address, and only to the student.
  • No information about a student’s academic performance can be released to anyone other than the student without the student’s written permission, including grades.
  • Use extreme caution when using the delivered email functionality within the MyMav class roster or grade roster to email academic information to students so no protected data is compromised or widely broadcast.

The public posting of grades on office, class or departmental doors or bulletin boards or on the web, which uses student names or identifiers, including the UTA ID and NetID or any identifier allowing a reasonable person in the school community who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances to identify the student with reasonable certainty, is prohibited under federal law.

INFORMATION WHICH A STUDENT DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO INSPECT

A student does not have a right under FERPA to inspect information which is not an education record, such as:

  • Sole possession notes, which are an individual’s observations or recollections which are kept in the possession of the maker;
  • Medical treatment records;
  • Law enforcement records;
  • Employment records (provided the employment is unrelated to student status);
  • Records containing information about the individual created or received after he or she is no longer a student and which are not directly related to the student’s attendance at the University;
  • Records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel and educational personnel which are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record;
  • Peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor;

Note: A student may have rights to inspect such records under other laws.

In addition, a student does not have the right to access certain education records, such as:

  • Confidential letters of recommendation, if the student has waived his or her right of access in writing;
  • Financial records of the student's parents;
  • Admissions records for a student who does not officially attend the program of admission.  If the student completed a course at the University but never officially attended as a degree candidate in the program of admission, then the student has FERPA rights with respect to the course but does not have rights with respect to the admissions records for the program;
  • Records of a student containing information on other students.  The student may inspect, review or be informed of only the specific information about that student.

ADDITIONAL UT ARLINGTON BUSINESS PRACTICES RELATED TO FERPA

As a benefit to its graduates, UT Arlington will provide a complimentary transcript to Dallas County Community College District and Tarrant County College District when the graduate previously earned 16 or more hours at those institutions, so a review for conferral of an associate's degree can be made.  Permission to send the transcript to the community college district is part of the Application for Graduation.

UT Arlington will maintain the FERPA disclosure code in effect at the time of a student's last term of enrollment for former students.  Furthermore, the university will honor a request from a former student, not re-enrolled, to change a privacy election.  FERPA protection excludes records contain ing information about an individual after s/he is no longer a student.

FERPA rights cease upon death.  However, it is the policy of UT Arlington that no records of deceased students be released for a period of 25 years after the date of the student’s death, unless specifically authorized by the executor of the deceased's estate or by next of kin.  The University notifies students annually of their FERPA rights through the online undergraduate and graduate catalogs and by annual email notification.

FERPA RESOURCES AND TRAINING FOR UT ARLINGTON PERSONNEL

For UT Arlington’s academic catalog statements about FERPA: 
 Go to the Student Educational Records Policy in the Academic Regulations section of the UTA Catalogs:

Undergraduate - Academic Regulations section of the Undergraduate Catalog 
Graduate - Academic Regulations section of the Graduate Catalog

Training power points:

FERPA Basics


FERPA: Focus on Amendments

  • Delivered to UTAAA Membership Meeting 3/3/11. 
  • Additions:  Slides 11-12, Navigation to edit privacy settings; Slides 21-22, Navigation to find information regarding  parent release (person comments); Slide 23, ARR contacts for verification of parent release on file and other FERPA questions.

Web links:


QUESTIONS AND CONTACTS

For UT Arlington’s FERPA-related policies and procedures:

Contact:  Office of Admissions, Records and Registration, UTA Box 19088, Arlington, TX  76019

Shannon Williams, Associate Registrar; direct 817/272-6105; swilliams@uta.edu.

 

For UT Arlington’s academic catalog statements about FERPA:

 Go to the Student Educational Records Policy in the Academic Regulations section of the UTA Catalogs:

Undergraduate - Academic Regulations section of the Undergraduate Catalog

Graduate - Academic Regulations section of the Graduate Catalog

 

For Family Policy Compliance Office at the Department of Education:

If students believe that their FERPA rights have been violated, they may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. A complaint must be submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the student knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. The complaint must contain specific factual allegations giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred, and it should be forwarded to: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S. W., Washington, DC 20202-5901. Additional information is available at Ed.gov.