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What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."
Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies. The University of Missouri - St. Louis currently charges $10.00. This fee is subject to change without notice.
Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.
Right to Records Inspection
A student has a right to inspect and review any education record permitted under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Education records are maintained in a number of University offices. Requests to review records must be made in writing to the University Registrar or Assistant Registrar who shall comply with a request within 45 days upon receipt. When a record contains personally identifiable information about more than one student, a student may inspect only that information which relates to the student.
From CRR 180.020:
Rights of Inspection and Review of Education Records
The University shall provide students access to their educational records except as provided in Section 180.020.G.
The University shall comply with a request within a reasonable period of time, but in no case more than 45 days after the request has been received.
The University shall respond to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of those records.
If circumstances effectively prevent the student from exercising the right to inspect and review the student’s education records, the University shall:
Provide the student with a copy of the records requested; or
Make other arrangements for the student to inspect and review the requested records.
The University shall not destroy any education records if there is an outstanding request to inspect and review the records under this section.
Limitation on Access
If the education records of a student contain information on more than one student, the student may inspect and review or be informed of only the specific information about that student.
The University will not permit a student to inspect and review education records that are:
Financial records, including any information those records contain, of the student’s parents;
Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the education records of the student before January 1, 1975, as long as the statements are used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended; and
Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the student’s education records after January 1, 1975, if:
(1) The student has waived the right to inspect and review those letters and statements; and
(2) Those letters and statements are related to the student’s:
(a) Admission to the University;
(b) Application for employment;
(c) Receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.