The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Board of Trustees Policy: 4.5
Date: June 2012
Supersedes: January 2007
Montgomery County Community College (the College) accords all the rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (the Act) to its students. The College collects, maintains, secures and destroys student records for the educational welfare and advancement of the students. No one outside the College shall have access to, nor will the College disclose any information from students’ education records without the written consent of the students, except to personnel within the College, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation functions, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons, and to individuals and agencies permitted under the Act. The Act affords current and former attending and registered students of the College the right to access their education records.
This Policy, serves as the guidance for the privacy of student records. School officials who have been determined by the College to have legitimate educational interests may receive personally identifiable information from a student’s education records without the student’s consent. Subject to the requirements of the Act, the College may provide directory information from a student’s education record, unless the student has stated in writing that such information may not be disclosed.
“Authorized Representative” refers to any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in §99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.
“Education Program” refers to any program that is principally engaged in the provision of education, including, but not limited to, early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, and any program that is administered by an educational agency or institution.
“Directory Information” is personally identifiable information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released. It can be disclosed to outside organizations without a student’s prior written consent.
“Legitimate Educational Interest” refers to the College required use of the education record for any college related business needed for enrollment, placement or programming of the student, or the review, reevaluation, or monitoring of the student’s placement, educational progress, or enrollment status at the College.
“Personally Identifiable Information” includes, but is not limited to: the name of a student; the name of the student’s parent or other family member; the address of the student or student’s family; a personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number or student number; a list of personal characteristics which would make the student’s identity easily traceable; other information which would make the student’s identity easily traceable, such as date of birth and mother’s maiden name.
“An Education Record” is a record that:
- Directly relates to a student of the College and is maintained by the College or by a party acting for the College.
- Contains information, recorded in any way, including but not limited to: handwriting, print, film, microfilm, audio/videotapes, computer media, and microfiche.
- Relates to a student attending the College and who is employed by the College. An example of this type of record is the performance rating of a student enrolled and working for the College.
Education records do not include:
- Records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
- Records of the law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the student’s choosing.
- Alumni records which contain information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the College and which do not relate to the person as a student.
- Records maintained by Montgomery County Community College legal counsel.
Within Montgomery County Community College, school officials who have been determined by the College to have legitimate educational interests may receive personally identifiable information from the students’ education records without the students’ consent. These school officials may include personnel employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, 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 service instead of using college employees or officials; or a student serving on an official committee such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. In addition, authorized representatives may receive personally identifiable information with respect to Federal- or State-supported educational programs, in conducting any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs. The College may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include:
- Student’s full name
- Electronic mail address
- Telephone listing
- Date of birth
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance/enrollment
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height (members of athletic teams)
- Degrees, honors and awards received
- Most recent educational agency or institution attended
- Enrollment status (full-time or part-time)
Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Director of Records and Registration /Registrar in writing within three weeks after the first day of classes for the semester in which the withholding of directory information is to take effect. Students’ requests for non-disclosure will be honored until the student requests its removal.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to request amendment of the contents of their education records, to have hearings if the outcomes of the request are unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels to be unacceptable. The law also provides students with the right to inspect and review the records of disclosure of information from their education records. The types of education records and the custodian of each type of education record are listed in Appendix A to this policy. Students wishing to review their education records must make a written request to the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar, listing the item or items of interest.
Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the written request. Students may have copies of their records with certain exceptions: a copy of the academic record if the student has an outstanding financial obligation to the College or a transcript, original or source document that exists elsewhere.
Students may not inspect and review the following, as outlined by the Act.
- Financial information submitted by their parents;
- Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions;
- Recommendations for employment, job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights for inspection and review; and
- Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the College will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
The College is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights must make a written request to the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar, who will in turn communicate directly with the custodians of the records in question. If the custodians of the records in question are in agreement with the student request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified, in writing, within 15 business days that the records will not be amended; and will be informed by the custodians of the records in question of the right to a formal hearing. A student request for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management who, within 15 business days after receiving such request, will inform the student of the date, place, and time of the hearing. The student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearing by one or more persons of his or her choice, including an attorney, at the student’s expense.
The hearing panel which will adjudicate such challenges will be composed of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar. If a member of the hearing panel has a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing, the President of Montgomery County Community College will replace the member with an individual who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.
The decision of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place a statement with the education records commenting on the information in the records or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the records. The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act, may request, in writing, assistance from the President of the College. Further, students who believe that their rights have been violated, may file complaints with: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-5901, concerning the alleged failures of Montgomery County Community College to comply with the Act.
In compliance with the Act, annual notification to students of their rights will be provided.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and the College’s policy warrant.
Notification of Rights under FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) afford students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of
the College receiving a request for access.
Students should submit to the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The Director of Records and Registration/Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar, that official shall advise the student of the correct official/department the student should expect to hear from within 15 business days.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student
believes is inaccurate.
Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should direct a written request to the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar clearly identifying the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate.
- If the College decides not to amend the record, as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision within 15 days and will advise the student of his or her 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.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained
in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure
without consent as indicated below:
- To school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the record.
- To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
- To authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the College’s State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of Personally Identifiable Information to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf.
- In connection with a student’s request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
- To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the College, or order to (a) develop, validate or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.
- To parents of an eligible student, if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.
- To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
- To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency.
- As it relates to directory information, unless the student restricts directory information.
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, the disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.
- To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the College’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her.
- To the parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21.
- To the student.
- 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 20202-5901
The Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management is responsible for development, oversight and review of the College’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act policy. Under the leadership of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar serves as the FERPA Officer for the College.