Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
For Odessa College to comply with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the following policies and procedures have been established.
FERPA rights are granted to parents of students under age 18 and transfer to the student when he or she turns 18 or enters a postsecondary institution. A student at Odessa College, regardless of age, retains FERPA rights for him- or herself, unless the student completes a FERPA Grant Access form for a parent or another individual. Education records are defined by FERPA to include but are not limited to records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to students and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.
Odessa College will give annual notice to current students of their rights under the Act by publishing information in the Catalog. A copy of this policy will be on file in the Learning Resource Center and the Records Office.
Access to Education Records
All students have the right to review their education records with the following exceptions as outlined by FERPA:
- financial information submitted by parents;
- confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided these letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which specifically collected;
- confidential letters and statements of recommendation, placed in the records after January 1, 1975, to which the students have waived their right to inspect and review and that are related to the students’ admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors;
- Educational records containing information about more than one student; however, in such cases the institution must permit access to that part of the record that pertains only to the inquiring student. To review records, students and former students may go to the Records Office, present a valid photo identification card, and ask to review the record. If it is an inappropriate time to retrieve the record on short notice, students may be requested to complete a “Request to Review Education Records” form in the Records Office. Because of various circumstances, the College may delay, to a maximum of 45 days, the release of the records for review. The College is not required to provide access to records of applicants for admission who are denied acceptance, or, if accepted, do not attend.
The permanent record for each student may consist of:
- Application for admission
- Appropriate transcripts (high school, GED, other colleges attended)
- Transcript of coursework completed at the College
- Residency form (for those students since 1997)
- Correspondence with student
- Registration forms
- Schedule change forms
- Withdrawal forms
Disclosure of Personal Information
Odessa College shall obtain written consent from students before disclosing any personally identifiable information from their education records. Such written consent must specify the records to be released; state the purpose of the disclosure, identify the party or class of parties to whom disclosure may be made, and be signed and dated by the student. A state- or country-issued identification card, including the student’s signature, may be required for such a request.
FERPA states that certain information from student records may be classified as directory information. Directory information may be made available to the public without a student’s consent. The following categories of information have been designated by Odessa College as directory information:
- Student’s name, address, telephone number
- Dates of attendance
- The most recent previous educational institution attended by the student
- Major Field of study, degree desired, and student classification
- Degrees, certificates and other awards received
- Enrollment Status
- Email address
If any student has an objection to any of the aforementioned information being released about himself or herself during any given term/semester, the student must notify the Records Office and complete the Disclosure of Directory Information form. This request will remain in effect until the student submits to the Records Office an updated Disclosure form, allowing the release of directory information.
FERPA established rules stating that some personnel and agencies may have access to students’ education records without written consent of the students. Odessa College will disclose information from a student’s education record only with the written consent of the student except:
To school officials determined by the institution to have a legitimate educational interest. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position; a person employed by or under contract to the College to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor; performing a task that is specified in his or her job description or by a contract agreement; performing a task related to a student’s education; performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, advising, job placement, or financial aid. When doubt is raised by the Records Office about an individual’s need to know or legitimate educational interest in having access to specific information, the issue shall be decided by the President of the College.
To officials of another school, upon request, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
To authorized personnel of the following government agencies if the disclosure is 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:
- Comptroller General of the United States
- Secretary of Education
- U.S. Attorney General (for law enforcement purposes only)
- State and local education authorities
- To any party who is providing financial aid to the student (“financial aid” does not include any payments made by parents).
- To state and local officials to whom information is specifically required to be reported or disclosed pursuant to state statue adopted prior to November 19, 1974.
- To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the College.
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.
- To parents of eligible students who claim the student as dependents for income tax purposes. The parents must furnish a copy of their most recent Federal Income Tax Form.
- To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency subject to a determination by the President or the Deans or their designees.
- To personnel complying with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena provided the Records Office makes a reasonable attempt to notify students in advance of compliance. The College is not required to notify students if a federal grand jury subpoena or any other subpoena issued for a law enforcement purpose orders the College not to disclose the existence or contents of the subpoena.
- To an alleged victim of any crime of violence of the results of any institutional disciplinary proceeding against alleged perpetrator of that crime with respect to that crime.
- To appropriate parties in response to requests for directory information.
- To parents/legal guardians when their children (under age 21) are found to have violated the alcohol policy of the College (Warner Amendment).
- To appropriate parties requesting the final results of a disciplinary hearing against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offender (Foley Amendment).
- To the Immigration and Naturalization Service for purposes of the Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students.
- To military recruiters who request “Student Recruiting Information” for recruiting purposes only (Solomon Amendment). Student recruiting information is directory information.
- To the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for purposes of complying with the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.
- To authorized personnel of the Department of Veterans Affairs for students receiving educational assistance from the agency.
Students who have ceased attendance or have graduated from Odessa College have basically the same FERPA rights as students currently attending including the right to:
- Inspect their education records
- Have a hearing to amend an education record
- Have their education record privacy protected by the College
- Former students do not have the right to request of the College non-disclosure unless they asked, at their last opportunity as students, that no directory information be disclosed.
Rights of Deceased Students
For twenty-five years following the death of a student, the release of education record information will not be made unless authorized by the student’s parents or the executor/executrix of the deceased student’s estate.
Challenge of Contents in Records
Students may challenge information in their education records that they believe to be incorrect or inappropriate. This challenge must be in writing and must be submitted to the appropriate Dean responsible for the record. The Dean must decide within a reasonable period of time whether corrective action will be taken, and the Dean must provide written notification to the student and the Records Office of the corrective action that has been approved. Students who are not provided full relief sought by their challenge must be referred to the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management.
Should the College decide not to amend the record in accordance with the student’s request, the Records Office must inform the student that the student has the opportunity to place with the education record a statement commenting on the information in the record or a statement setting forth any reason for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing. The statement placed in the education record by the student will be maintained as part of the record for as long as the College holds the record. This record, when disclosed to an authorized party, must include the statement filed by the student.
Filing a FERPA complaint
FERPA affords students 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
Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue
SW Washington, DC 20202-4605