Frequently Asked Questions about the University's FERPA Policy

Definitions

1.  The University's FERPA Policy states that education records can be disclosed without student consent “to appropriate parties in an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of the student or of others.”  For there to be an “emergency,” must the danger to health and safety be imminent?

2.  I am a faculty member and understand that my personal notes about students are not considered education records.  What if I input those notes into a computer program to which others have access, such as the notes section of DegreeWorks?

3.  Who does the University consider to be a “student”?

4.  Do I need a FERPA consent form to talk with parents of prospective students?  What if parents are curious about the financial aid package his or her daughter might receive?

Student Access to Records

5.  Is the University obligated to provide copies of education records to a student?  Or provide the records in a particular format, such as by email or on a disk? 
6.  The definition of “school official” includes employees, which would include student-employees, and it also includes students serving on official committees or students assisting school officials in the performance of their duties.  How can the University be sure these students understand their FERPA obligations? 

Student Consent to Release

7.  How will I know if a student has asked that his or her directory information not be released?
8.  Does granting viewing access in FlyerView mean a student has provided FERPA consent?

Employees’ Requests for Records & the Gatekeeper Role

9.  I am a University employee or faculty member who would like to conduct a research study involving human subjects.  Do I go to a gatekeeper with that request?
10.  I am a University employee and, to do my job, I must regularly see or have discussions with other University employees regarding education records.  Do I need to fill out a “Records Request Form” every time I know I’m going to see or discuss an education record?
11.  I am a gatekeeper.   Should I do something to document the people with whom I regularly consult as part of my job – the people I believe don’t need to fill out a Records Request Form?
12.  I am a gatekeeper.  What am I supposed to do with the Records Request Forms I receive?

13.  I am a department chair, and to determine if a student has satisfied prerequisites to take a particular course, I may need to review his or her educational records.  Do I need to fill out a Records Request Form or obtain a FERPA Consent Form before conducting that review?  

Policy Violations

14.  What happens if someone covered by the FERPA Policy knowingly releases education information without having the permission or authorization to do so?

Miscellaneous

15.  What about taking photographs on campus?  Is that governed by the FERPA Policy?
16.  I noticed that the FERPA consent form does not allow someone to ask for information about a student's disability.  Why?

Definitions 

1.  The University's FERPA Policy states that education records can be disclosed without student consent “to appropriate parties in an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of the student or of others.”  For there to be an “emergency,” must the danger to health and safety be imminent?

Yes, the danger must be imminent.  As an example, planning for tornado season in advance would not constitute an emergency, but being in the midst of one would be.  The U.S. Department of Education has explained, in a document entitled "Addressing Emergencies on Campus (June 2011)," as follows:  "Disclosures for health or safety emergency reasons do not include disclosures to address emergencies for which the likelihood of occurrence is unknown, such as would be the case in emergency preparedness activities.  Rather, disclosures made under the health or safety emergency provision must be “in connection with an emergency,” which means it must be related to an actual, impending, or imminent emergency, such as a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a campus shooting, or the outbreak of an epidemic disease."

2.  I am a faculty member and understand that my personal notes about students are not considered education records.  What if I input those notes into a computer program to which others have access, such as the notes section of DegreeWorks?

Once the notes are no longer in your own personal files – i.e., they are accessible by others on campus – they are considered education records and subject to FERPA.

3.  Who does the University consider to be a “student”?  

“Student” means an individual who has registered with the University for any form of instruction, whether or not for credit.  Student status begins at the time of such registration, even if the student has not yet arrived on campus or commenced instruction, and continues until such time as the student graduates, completes the relevant program, is expelled, or otherwise indicates a permanent separation from the University.  A student who has been suspended continues to be considered a student for purposes of University policies and procedures.  Additionally, an undergraduate student who has not registered for three consecutive semesters (excluding the summer term) is no longer considered a student. 

  • “Graduate” for purposes of this definition means the conferring to or earning of a degree by a student, regardless of whether the student actually attends a graduation ceremony.  

  • The University reserves the right to consider the following individuals to be students:   

    • Any individual who has confirmed acceptance and is living on campus property but not yet registered for instruction; and

    • Any individual considered to be enrolled, even if not actively taking classes. 

  • Additionally, individuals should be aware that their actions post-acceptance but pre-registration may impact their admissions status.  

4.  Do I need a FERPA Consent Form to talk with parents of prospective students?  What if parents are curious about the financial aid package his or her daughter might receive?

Generally, prospective students (those who have not yet registered) are not considered University of Dayton students yet, and therefore the FERPA requirements do not yet apply – meaning, you would not need a consent form signed to have discussions with the parents.  For additional information please refer to FAQ #3.

Student Access to Records  

5.  Is the University obligated to provide copies of education records to a student?  Or provide the records in a particular format, such as by email or on a disk? 

No.  A student’s right to his or her records is to have access to those records – not to actually have copies or otherwise be given possession of those records, particularly in a specific format.   

6.  The definition of “school official” includes employees, which would include student-employees, and it also includes students serving on official committees or students assisting school officials in the performance of their duties.  How can the University be sure these students understand their FERPA obligations? 

Students who have access to education records by way of a disciplinary or grievance committee role, a student employment position or a volunteer position are expected to comply with the University’s FERPA Policy.  And then any access to records is not free rein to records; it should only be in narrow and supervised circumstances.  University staff and faculty who have students reporting to them who have access to education records should ensure that those students understand and agree to comply with their FERPA obligations.  Having the student sign a Student Employee / Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement is recommended; the signed agreement should be kept by the office for which the student works or volunteers.  Finally, anyone who has access to education records should only use that access when such access is consistent with his or her role for the University.  That is, a student employee who works in a Dean’s office has no right to download records during his or her “off” time, i.e., to peruse records out of mere curiosity.

Student Consent to Release  

7.  How will I know if a student has asked that his or her directory information not be released?

In Banner, instead of the ordinary student information, you will see a label of “CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” 

8.  Does granting viewing access in FlyerView mean a student has provided FERPA consent?

The electronic “viewing” access in FlyerView does not count as consent beyond that electronic viewing.  Thus, if a parent were to call an instructor and say, “My son/daughter gave me access on FlyerView to see grades, so you have to talk to me about those grades,” that would not be correct.  The student would have to provide consent for that conversation to happen.  You can use the standardized Consent Form to document that consent.

Employees' Requests for Records & the Gatekeeper Role    

9.  I am a University employee or faculty member who would like to conduct a research study involving human subjects.  Do I go to a gatekeeper with that request?

You first should obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board.   

10.  I am a University employee and, to do my job, I must regularly see or have discussions with other University employees regarding education records.  Do I need to fill out a “Records Request Form” every time I know I’m going to see or discuss an education record?

No – if you are seeing or discussing records as part of your ordinary University duties, then you had a legitimate educational interest in those records.  The Records Request Form is meant to come into play when access to records is atypical.  For example, if you work in Student Development and personnel from the Student Success Office regularly consult with you in the performance of their jobs, that sharing of information would be considered routine and ordinary.  But if someone from another office with which you do not regularly consult were to call you for a record, the Records Request Form would help establish that he or she has a legitimate educational interest in the record.

11.  I am a gatekeeper.   Should I do something to document the people with whom I regularly consult as part of my job – the people I believe don’t need to fill out a Records Request Form?

Yes, it is recommended that you document the people with whom you regularly work and discuss education records as part of your and their jobs.  For example, if you work in Athletics and regularly permit coaches to know student athlete grades – so that the coaches in turn can satisfy NCAA academic performance standards – then you should consider documenting that protocol, i.e., that you regularly share records with coaches on a need-to-know-basis.  

12.  I am a gatekeeper.  What am I supposed to do with the Records Request Forms I receive?

Gatekeepers should maintain those form in their records, so as to document the University’s record-handling should the University be audited.

13.  I am a department chair, and to determine if a student has satisfied prerequisites to take a particular course, I may need to review his or her educational records.  Do I need to fill out a Records Request Form or obtain a FERPA Consent Form before conducting that review?  

No.  As a chair, you automatically have a legitimate educational interest in such records to make the assessments required of your position.  It is only when a University employee who is not a gatekeeper wants to see a student’s past performance to assess his or her performance in a particular course that an issue under FERPA would arise; in such a case, the curious University employee would not have legitimate educational interest.  

Policy Violations  

14.  What happens if someone covered by the FERPA Policy knowingly releases education information without having the permission or authority to do so?

Inappropriate disclosure of information protected by the FERPA Policy constitutes a violation of the University’s Illegal, Fraudulent, Dishonest, and Unethical Conduct Policy.  The policy lists as a prohibited activity:   "7. Unauthorized disclosure of private employment, personal, or medical information of an employee or a student."

Miscellaneous 

15.  What about taking photographs on campus?  Is that governed by the FERPA Policy?

Any photographs or video taken under the direction of the University marketing and communications office, or any other University sponsored program, may be used in news stories, on the web or in University publications. Photos may be used in publicly-disseminated promotional materials.  An individual's name will not be listed in the caption or accompanying text without his or her permission.  If someone prefers not to be photographed, he or she should simply inform the photographer at the time photos are taken.

16.  I noticed that the FERPA consent form does not allow someone to ask for information about a student's disability.  Why?

Whether a student has a disability is confidential information.  Such information is kept confidentially by the Learning Teaching Center's ("LTC") Office of Learning Resources.  Rather than risk a student inadvertently consenting to release of confidential disability information by checking the "ALL" box on the FERPA Consent Form, the Office of Learning Resources has its own unique consent form to allow a student to agree specifically to the release of his or her disability information.  The Office of Learning Resources can also provide assistance if questions arise regarding accommodations for a student.  Signed FERPA releases related to disability will be maintained by the Office of Learning Resources and will not be shared with anyone not identified in a properly executed release.