FERPA Information for Staff
Goucher College FERPA Guidelines
Who can have access to student information?
An institution may disclose personally identifiable information without the student's written consent to "school officials" whom the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest."
Obligation to release directory information
An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only says that an institution MAY release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information.
The privacy rights of an individual expire with that individual's death. Thus, records held by an institution for a deceased person are not protected by FERPA and an institution may disclose such records upon request. When the former student is deceased, the policy at Goucher College is that education records will not be released until 25 years after the person's death, unless the request is from the executor of the student's estate or next of kin. In such case, the College may provide education records, if the requester provides the College with proof of death and identification. If you receive a request for information related to a deceased student, contact the Registrar's Office.
FERPA does not preclude an institution from identifying students as "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" for specific purposes. The same requirements and responsibilities for a full time school official exist for student workers. The student workers must be trained about FERPA just as if they were faculty or staff. All student workers should sign an agreement to maintain the confidentiality of records to which they may have access. A student agreement to maintain confidentiality can be found at the downloadable forms page.
Students who serve on an official board or committee of the College, such as the Academic Honor Board, the Student Judicial Board or a grievance committee, are "College officials" and are entitled to have access to student record information pertinent to their position. In general, however, other student organization members are not "college officials" and may not have access to student record information, unless the student has provided written authorization. Requests for information from these entities should be referred to the Registrar's office.
Students have the right to inspect the contents of their student folder, regardless of their financial status with the institution. However, an institution is NOT REQUIRED to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.
Release of information to a student over the telephone
FERPA does not prohibit releasing non-directory information to a student over the phone. However, staff should confirm the identity of the student prior to releasing information over the phone by verifying the student's ID number, social security number and parent or guardian name and address.
At Goucher College, all subpoenas are first reviewed by the Office of General Counsel to determine the appropriate course of action.
Prohibition on redisclosure
Except where not required under FERPA regulations (e.g., disclosures to parents, disclosures of directory information, disclosures pursuant to court order or subpoenas, and under the USA PATRIOT Act), the College must inform all third parties to whom personal information from a student's education record is released that no further release of such information is authorized without written consent of the student. A form letter notifying third parties of this obligation should accompany any information released to a third party, except as noted above. A form letter can be found at the downloadable forms page.
Documentation of disclosures
FERPA requires that if education records are provided to third parties, a record of the disclosure must be maintained with the student's education records. Staff members must complete a form for each such disclosure and place the form in the file with the student's education records. This form should not be completed (1) if the request is from a student, (2) if the records were disclosed with the consent of the student, (3) for disclosures of directory information, (4) if the disclosure is to a school official with a legitimate educational interest or (5) if the disclosure is pursuant to a subpoena that requires non-disclosure to a student. A third party disclosure form can be found at the downloadable forms page.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." When Goucher College is contacted to provide non-directory information in such a situation, including the location of a student on campus or the course schedule of a student, the request for information is referred to the Registrar's office and/or Office of Campus Safety who will determine the appropriate response to the request.
Who to contact with questions/concerns
General questions may be directed to the Registrar's Office or the Office of the General
Counsel. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to:
Graduation clearance, National Student Clearinghouse, academic policies and procedures, BSEP program