Student Privacy and FERPA for Faculty and Staff
In accordance with the College’s mission to uniquely empower our students, Lincoln College is committed to the protecting the privacy and confidentiality of student educational records as established by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
The information below is intended to help guide members of College’s faculty and staff in compliance with FERPA regulations.
An educational record consists of just about any information provided by, or related to, a student that the College uses or creates in the process of educating the student. Such a record could be in any media format, ranging from hand-written notes to database entries in the Student Information System. A few examples are:
- elements of personally identifiable information (PII)
- enrollment records
- course and assignment grades
- student course schedules
Student educational records may be:
- a document in the Registrar’s Office
- a computer printout in your office
- a class list on your desktop
- a computer display screen
Barring certain exceptions, students must provide express written consent before the College can release any information from the student’s educational records.
Certain classifications of student information are considered to be Directory Information and are, therefore, not subject to the strict privacy standards of FERPA. At Lincoln College, the following elements are considered Directory information and may be released without prior consent of the student*:
- E-mail addresses
- Dates of Attendance at the College
- Enrollment status (Part-Time, defined as registration for less than 12 credit hours, or Full-Time, defined as registration for 12 credit hours or more)
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Address and phone number
- Weight and height of athletic team members
- Date and place of birth
- Honors and Awards
- Degree Programs
- Degrees Earned
In addition, personal notes created to serve solely as a memory aid, and that have not been shared with any other parties, are not considered to be educational records. Should such a note be shared, however, it then becomes an educational record.
*Note: Students do have the right to restrict even Directory Information, though few choose to exercise that right. As a general guide to practice, please consult with the Registrar’s Office before releasing any information regarding a student.
Faculty-Specific Concerns Under FERPA
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, social security number or student identification number without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades in a public fashion to a class website and applies to any public posting of grades for students taking distance learning courses. Best practice in this regard is to post grades using the Gradebook functions of the Canvas LMS or similar functions within the MyLynx student information portal.
Should a faculty member wish to create a video or audio recording of a class session, it is not necessary to obtain written consent from the participating students. Those choosing to create such a record should keep the following aspects in mind:
- The faculty member should not discuss personally identifiable information (PII) during the recording. The discussion of PII within the record will transform the recording into an educational record for all of the students involved in the recording.
- The recording should be stored in a manner accessible only to the members of the class being recorded. Recordings of one class may not be shared with another class even if the lesson content is the same.
Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person’s personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student. However, if personally identifiable information obtained from a student’s educational record is included in the letter of recommendation (grades, GPA, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which:
- Specifies the records that may be disclosed,
- States the purpose of the disclosure, and
- Identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.
If this letter is kept on file by the person writing the recommendation, it would be part of the student’s educational record and the student has the right to read it unless he or she has waived that right to access in writing.
Upon reaching the age of 18 or enrollment in post-secondary education, the rights formerly held by parents in regard to educational records transfer to the student. This makes the parents of any student ‘third-parties’ under FERPA, and the student must consent in writing to any release of information. Students made elect to waive their FERPA rights in relation to any third-party through a process with the Registrar’s Office.
If a parent makes contact with you and wishes to discuss their student’s progress, please inform them that you will need to confirm with the Registrar’s Office that such a waiver is on file before you can continue the discussion.]
If you have further questions or the material above does not address a situation you are encountering, please contact the Registrar’s Office.