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FERPA - Tutorial

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As soon as an applicant becomes a student, FERPA rules apply. FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. FERPA protects a student’s records once an individual becomes an actual Clarkson student: the first day of classes of the term in which they enroll.

Some student information is considered public information. This information includes name, address, phone, dates of attendance, degrees received, major program, student ID photo and height and weight of athletes. This information may be released without the student's written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well. PeopleSoft employs a flag system to insure you know if a student has made such considerations.

Student educational records are to be kept private. A student's educational or academic record includes his date of birth, social security number, grades, schedule, and all personal information. No matter where this information is stored (in a document in the registrar's office, on a class list on a professor's desk, on a computer display screen) it is still confidential. Whether you are faculty, staff or student, maintaining confidentially of student records is your responsibility.

So what does one do if there are inquiries made by parents or members of law enforcement? If you are ever in doubt call Student Administrative Services. You must treat each student as an adult who is entitled to privacy, even from parents. You cannot give out grades, schedules, or any other personal information. There are situations in which the student is a legal dependent of one or more parents so that such disclosure might be legal. Nevertheless, simply refer the parent to the student's Student Administrative Services Representative. Campus Safety can handle issues surrounding the location of a student. If you are issued a subpoena, contact the Registrar in Student Administrative Services for further instruction. The University is required to notify the student if any subpoenas are served. You never have to make the decision on your own. To protect students, Clarkson University and yourself, call Student Administrative Services whenever you are unsure.

It is inappropriate for students to have access to other students' private information. Therefore, exams, papers, etc should not be left in public areas for students to pick up. Likewise, grades should be posted in a manner that does not link the grade with social security numbers. However, unique numbers may be assigned to students for one class only that would be privately shared with students for this purpose. Information on a computer screen should be treated the same as printed reports. Private information should not be left accessible or unattended.

Finally, when you are granted access to personal data, it is with the trust that you will be a responsible user of the data, you will store data that you have access to under secure conditions and you will make every effort to maintain privacy of data.