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What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and establishes the rights of students to inspect and review their education records and, in certain circumstances, the right to request the record be amended. The law limits the rights of institutions to disclose education records or information contained in such records without the studentís written consent. There are exceptions when designated personnel within the institution may see the records in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.

FERPA also permits the disclosure by an institution without a studentís prior consent of so-called directory information about the student.

What is directory information?

Directory information is the information that is available for release to the general public. However, the act states that each student has the right to inform the college that any or all of the information is not to be released. The Fashion Institute of Technology will honor the studentís request to restrict the release of directory information under the terms of FERPA. The Fashion Institute of Technology has established the following as directory information:

Name
Major
Class standing
Photographs
Participation in recognized sports
Height and weight of athletes
Dates of attendance and enrollment status
FIT email address
Degrees, certificates, and/or awards received

The Fashion Institute of Technology will exercise discretion in the release of all directory information, and students may withhold disclosure of this information. In order to withhold information, the student must notify the Registrarís Office in writing every semester. If the student has indicated that they wish this information to be withheld, the request will be flagged in the registrarís database.

PARENTAL ACCESS

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect a studentís education records. The right to inspect is limited solely to the student. An institution is not required to disclose information from a studentís education records to the parents of a dependent student. It may, however, exercise its discretion to do so.† Records may be released to parents only under the following circumstances:

a) in compliance with a subpoena, or

b) if the parent produces a copy of the most recent federal income tax form showing that the student was claimed as a dependent.

POSTING OF GRADES BY FACULTY

The public posting of grades either by the studentís name, institutional student identification number, or social security number (without the studentís written permission) is a violation of FERPA.

Even with names obscured, student identifier numbers are considered personally identifiable information. Therefore, the practice of posting grades by social security number or student identification number violates FERPA.

TAKING ATTENDANCE USING CLASS ROSTERS

Taking attendance by passing around the class roster is a violation of FERPA. This document may contain personally identifiable information such as name, social security number, and student identification number.

RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN EMPLOYEE

As an employee of the Fashion Institute of Technology, you have access to the Student Education Records. Their confidentiality, use, and release are governed by FERPA. Your utilization of this information is governed by the regulations and the duties and responsibilities of your employment and position. Your job places you in a position of trust, and you are integral to ensuring that student information/education records are handled properly.

Students have the right to expect that their education records are being treated with care and respect. In general, all student information must be treated as confidential. Even public or directory information is subject to restriction on an individual basis. Unless your job involves the release of information and you have been trained in that function, any requests for disclosure of information, especially outside the college, should be referred to the Registrarís Office. Release of information contained on a studentís record without the written consent of the person identified on the document is in violation of Section 438, Public Law 90-247.

As college employees, you should have your own accounts and passwords for the administrative computer system and for email. You are responsible for your personal account and will be held accountable for any improper use. Protection of your sign-on password is critical for security. Your password is the only protection your account has and the only way the computer system can verify that you are actually who you say you are. Please pick a strong password and protect it.

RESPONSIBILITIES AS A STUDENT EMPLOYEE

Security and confidentiality are matters of concern to all offices and all persons who have access to student education records and files. The Registrarís Office is the official repository for student academic records, folders and other files for the Fashion Institute of Technology. Other education records are stored in both hard copy and electronic form in offices throughout the campus. Many offices are able to extend job opportunities and work experience to supplement studentís finances and education. In doing so, the student employee is placed in a unique position of trust since a major responsibility of college offices is the security and confidentiality of student records and files.

Since conduct either on or off the job could affect or threaten security and confidentiality of this information, each student employee is expected to adhere to the following:

  • ††††No one may make or permit unauthorized use of any information in files maintained, stored, or processed by the†
    †††††††office in which they are employed.
  • ††††No one is permitted to seek personal benefit or to allow others to benefit personally by the knowledge of any
    †††††† confidential information that has come to them by virtue of their work assignments.
  • ††††No one is to exhibit or divulge the contents of any record or report to any person except in the conduct of their work
    †††††† assignments and in accordance with college policies and procedures.
  • ††† No one may knowingly include or†cause to be included in any record a false or misleading entry.††††No one may
    †††††† knowingly expunge or cause to be expunged an entry in any record.
  • ††††No official record or report, or copy thereof may be removed from the office where it is maintained except in the
    †††††† performance of a personís duties.
  • ††† No one is to aid, abet, or act in conspiracy with another to violate any part of this code.† Any knowledge of a
    †††††† violation must be immediately reported to the personís supervisor.

SUMMARY

Checking a personís picture identification when releasing education records is good practice. Always check to see if the student permitted disclosure of information before you release any information on the student.

Discussing a studentís record with any person who does not have a legitimate educational interest is a violation of FERPA. This pertains to conversations on and off the job.

Releasing confidential student information (non-directory) to another student, college organization, or any person who does not have a legitimate educational interest without the studentís written authorization is in violation of FERPA.

Leaving reports or computer screens containing confidential information in view of others who do not have a legitimate educational interest in the data or leaving your computer unattended is in violation of FERPA.

Making personal use of student information is in violation of FERPA.

Allowing another person to use your computer access code is in violation of FERPA.

Putting paperwork in the trash with a studentís information (i.e., social security number, student identification number, or grades) is also in violation of FERPA.

In addition to the possibility of personal litigation, proven FERPA violations may result in loss of federal funds to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Violation of confidentiality and security may lead to appropriate personnel action.

RELATED LINK

If you have any questions concerning FERPA, or what can or cannot be released, please contact the Registrarís Office at 212 217.3820.

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