The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Board of Trustees Policy: 4.5
Date: June 2023
Supersedes: June 2012, January 2007
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 ("FERPA") is a federal law that helps protect the privacy of student Education Records (as defined below). The Montgomery County Community College FERPA Policy (this "Policy") affirms the student's right to: (1) inspect and review their education records; (2) seek to amend those records; and (3) limit disclosure of information from their Education Records except in certain circumstances.
Montgomery County Community College (the "College") collects, maintains, secures and destroys student records for the educational welfare and advancement of its 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 its 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 FERPA. FERPA affords current and former attending and registered students of the College the right to access their Education Records. (See Appendix A to access the Student Information Release Authorization Form).
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 FERPA, 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.
As used in this Policy, the following terms will have the following meanings:
“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 34 C.F.R. §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 or State 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” means a person's use of the Education Records in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities to or for the College, including:
- The performance of appropriate tasks that are specified in their position or by contract or agreement;
- The performance of tasks related to the student's education;
- The performance of tasks related to the discipline of a student; or
- The performance of a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
“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 identification number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student’s identity easily traceable; the student's date of birth; the student's mother's maiden name; and other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the College community, who does not have a personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.
“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 at the College who is also working for the College.
Education Records do not include:
- Records of instructional, administrative, supervisory, and educational personnel that are in 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 medical records, employment records, or alumni records. Student medical records, however, may be reviewed by physicians or other treatment professional of the student’s choosing.
- Post-attendance (alumni) records that contain information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the College and that do not relate to the person as a student. However, records that pertain to an individual’s previous attendance at the College as a student are "Education Records" regardless of when they were created or received by the College.
- Employment records, unless employment is contingent on the individual’s status as a student.
- Records maintained by the College's legal counsel.
The College may disclose Directory Information without a student’s permission in accordance with the provisions of FERPA, including:
- 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 choose to withhold Directory Information by notifying the 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. (See Appendix A to access the Request to Suppress Directory/Public Information Form).
While students may opt out of the disclosure of Directory Information, this right to opt out does not include the right to refuse to use, or otherwise disclose, a unique student identification number that the College may assign to the student.
With regard to former students, the College will honor any valid request to opt-out of the disclosure of Directory Information that is made in the last semester that the student was in attendance at the College, unless the student later rescinds such opt-out request.
Within the College, school officials who have been determined by the College to have Legitimate Educational Interests may receive Personally Identifiable Information from students’ Education Records without 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 services 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 in engaging with any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.
FERPA 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 such a request is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels to be unacceptable. FERPA also provides students with the right to inspect and review the records of disclosure of information from their Education Records. Students wishing to review their Education Records must submit a written request to the Registrar, listing the item or items of interest.
Only records covered by FERPA will be made available within 45 days of the College's receipt of such a written request. Students may obtain copies of their Education 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 in FERPA.
- 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 that 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.
The College will maintain a log of certain third party requests for disclosures and actual disclosures of Personally Identifiable Information to certain third parties, as required by law. Students may inspect that log by submitting a written request to the Director of Records and Registration/RegistrarRegistrar. The College will maintain this log as long as it maintains the student’s Education Records.
Students who believe that their Education Records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or that is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights must make a written request to the Registrar, who will in turn communicate directly with the custodians of the Education Records in question. If the custodians of the Education Records in question are in agreement with the student's request, then the appropriate Education Records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified, in writing, within 15 business days that the Education Records will not be amended, and will be informed by the custodians of the Education 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 their choice, including an attorney, at the student’s expense.
The hearing panel that will adjudicate such challenges will be composed of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Vice President of Engagement and Student Experience, and the Registrar. If a member of the hearing panel has a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing, then the President of the College will replace that member with an individual who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. No panel member may have any personal knowledge of or relationship with the student complainant.
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. If the decision is in favor of the student, the Education Records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, and the student will be so notified. 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 and/or the decision of the hearing panel. The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s Education Records and released whenever the Education Records in question are disclosed.
Any student who believes that the adjudications of their challenge was unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of FERPA, may request, in writing, assistance from the President of the College. In addition, any student who believes that their rights have been violated, may file a complaint with: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-5901, concerning the alleged failures of the College to comply with FERPA.
In compliance with FERPA, the College will provide its students with annual notifications of their rights under FERPA.
Revisions and clarifications to this Policy will be published as experience with FERPA and this Policy warrant.
The College will not disclose a student’s Education Records (or Personally Identifiable Information contained therein) in response to a judicial order or subpoena without first making a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena. If, however, the subpoena is a Federal grand jury subpoena or other subpoena issued for a law enforcement purpose in which the court has ordered, for good cause shown, that the College not disclose to anyone, including the student, the existence or contents of the subpoena or any information furnished in response to the subpoena, then no such notice will be provided.
Notification of Rights under FERPA
FERPA gives 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 Registrar, written requests that identify the Education Record(s) they wish to inspect. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where such Education Records may be inspected. If the requested Education Records are not maintained by the Registrar, then 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 or misleading.
Students may ask the College to amend an Education Record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should direct a written request to the Registrar clearly identifying the part of the Education Record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
- If the College decides not to amend the record, as requested by the student, then the College will notify the student of the decision within 15 business days and will advise the student of their 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 that financial aid.
- To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the College, in 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 a student's parents, if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.
- To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
- To a student's parents and appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency (i.e., if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals).
- As it relates to Directory Information, unless the student has restricted Directory Information in writing.
- 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 College determines that 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 them.
- 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 College, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the College determines that the student committed a disciplinary violation regarding that use or possession and the student is under the age of 21.
- To the student.
- As otherwise permitted or required by law.
- 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 of Engagement and Student Experience is responsible for development, oversight and review of this Policy. Under the leadership of the Vice President of Engagement and Student Experience, the Registrar serves as the FERPA Officer for the College.