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FERPA Compliance: Student Information Accessibility and Confidentiality

LMC Revised Date

Office of Origin: Records Office/Office of the Registrar
Date Adopted: 01-24-17
Date Reviewed: 01-24-17
Last Date Modified & Approved: 01-24-17
 

Educational records of all Lake Michigan College students are maintained in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended. FERPA is a Federal law administered by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funding under any program administered by the Department. 

FERPA ensures confidentiality of educational records and prescribes conditions under which information about students can be released, while also affording students certain rights with respect to their educational record.  FERPA applies to all students regardless of age or parental dependency. 

Unless there is an outstanding request by a student to inspect and review educational records, FERPA permits the College to destroy such records without notice to the student.

Student rights under FERPA:

  • The right to inspect and review the student’s educational record within 45 days of the date the College receives a request for access. The student should submit the request to the Registrar and identify the records he or she wishes to inspect.The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time/place the records may be inspected.

    By law, exceptions to the right to review include:

    • Parental financial information.
    • Educational records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to the part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
    • Items outlined in the exclusions to the definition of an educational record.
  • The right to request amendment to the student’s educational record. The student may request an amendment of records that the student believes to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.A request to amend should be made in writing to the Registrar, clearly identifying the part of the record the student wants changed and specifying why it should be changed. The College is not required to honor the request, only to consider it. If the request is denied, the Registrar will notify the student in writing of the decision and the right to a hearing on the decision. If after the hearing the College still chooses not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement with the record commenting on the contested information.That statement must remain with the contested part of the student’s record for as long as the record is maintained.

    While the educational record amendment process may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded, it may not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or a substantive decision made by the College about a student.  The intention of the right to request amendment is to require only that colleges conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations.  Additionally, if FERPA’s amendment process is not applicable to a student’s request for amendment of educational records, the College is not required to hold a hearing on the matter.

  • The right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational record (except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent). Information from a student’s educational record may not be released to third parties without the student’s prior written consent. However, there are exceptions to releasing information without a student’s approval, as outlined below:

    • College officials with legitimate educational interest.

    • In connection with the purpose of awarding financial aid.

    • In relation to a student’s delinquency on payment.  Relative information from a student’s educational record may be disclosed as necessary to effect collection of a student’s financial obligations to the College.

    • Litigation against the College.  Student educational records deemed necessary for the defense of the College in a suit filed by a student may be disclosed to attorneys representing the College.

    • Officials at other colleges to which a student is seeking to transfer/enroll.

    • Parents of a dependent student, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.  The College may release a student’s records upon request, but the parent or guardian must provide evidence of the student’s dependency (via most recent federal tax form), as well as his or her own photo identification, prior to receiving the requested information.

    • To comply with a court order or subpoena lawfully issued by a judge or attorney.  Court orders or subpoenas must be forwarded to the Registrar immediately so a response can be appropriately issued.  A reasonable effort to notify the student will be made by the College when it responds to a court order or subpoena.

    • Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions.  Authorized federal and state officials may have access to student educational records as required by the audit and evaluation of state and federally supported education programs, or in connection with the enforcement of federal legal requirements which relate to such programs.

    • Health and safety emergencies. The College may disclose information from an educational record to appropriate parties whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other individual.  The College must record the articulable and significant threat that formed the basis for the disclosure and the parties to whom the information was disclosed.

    • Accrediting organizations and professional organizations.  Designated representatives of accrediting and other professional organizations with which the College is affiliated may have access to student educational records to the extent necessary to fulfill the obligation of that affiliation.

    • Organizations conducting studies and research for LMC. The College may disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s education record without consent if the disclosure is to an organization conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the College to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests, to administer student aid programs, or to improve instruction.  Requests for access to student educational records under this exception must be reviewed and approved by appropriate College personnel.  Such requests will be fulfilled, if possible, by information from which all identification of the student has been removed.

      The written agreement between the College and the organization conducting the study must specify the purpose, scope, and duration of the study and the information to be disclosed, must require the organization to use personally identifiable information from educational records only to meet the purposes of the study, must limit any disclosures of information to individuals in the organization who have a legitimate interest in the information, and must require the organization to destroy or return to the College all personally identifiable information within a specified time period when the information is no longer needed for the purposes of the study.

    • Reporting requirements of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, Section 113, and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Section 122 (the College, may use student social security numbers to compile summary reports as mandated by these acts).
    • For military recruitment purposes upon request as stated in the Solomon Amendment of 1997, PL 104-206, Section 509(2).
    • NJCAA for student athletes.
    • To an alleged victim of any crime of violence of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by an institution of postsecondary education against the alleged perpetrator of that crime.

Student educational records disclosed to a third party under any of the above exceptions are subject to the condition that the third party will not permit any other party to have access to the records without prior approval from the College.

Directory Information: Directory information is information in a student’s educational record which may be disclosed to outside parties without the student’s prior written consent. Disclosure of directory information is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy.  In accordance with FERPA, LMC has designated the following student information as directory information:

  • Student name, phone number(s), address, email address(es)
  • Dates of attendance and enrollment status (e.g., full time, half time)
  • Class (e.g., freshman, sophomore)
  • Major field of study; degrees or certificates, honors, and awards received; confer dates of degrees/certificates
  • Participation in officially recognized activities
  • Sport, weight, height, age, and hometown of members of athletic teams and dates of participation
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended

The College may disclose any of these items without prior written consent unless notified in writing to the contrary by the student.  Requests to withhold directory information must be filed with the Records Office/Office of the Registrar.

An oral or written request for a student’s directory information must be directed to the Records Office/Office of the Registrar.  The College reserves the right to deny any request for directory information or to charge a fee for information provided in response to a request.  The College also reserves the right to request photo identification of the requesting party prior to compliance with such a request.

  • The right to request that the student’s directory information not be released by LMC.Students may request in writing to have all information, including directory information, held as confidential.When this request is made, the student record in flagged in the student information system and every reasonable effort will be made to safeguard the confidentiality of the information.The request to revoke total confidentiality shall also be made in writing and must be accompanied by photo proof of identity.
  • The right to file a complaint with the Department of Education: A person may file a written complaint with the Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Written complaints may be sent to the following office, which administers FERPA:

 Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington DC 20202-5920

A timely complaint is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as an allegation of a violation of the Act that is submitted to the Family Compliance Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.

Access to educational records: While FERPA provides the right to review and inspect an educational record it does not require the College the supply copies of the record(s) defined in such a request unless failure to do so would effectively prevent the student from obtaining access to the record(s).  Further, the College is not required to provide information that is not maintained or to create educational records in response to a student’s request.  Accordingly, the College is not required to provide a student with updates on the student’s progress in a course or in college unless such information already exists in the form of an educational record.

Parental access to student educational records: When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an "eligible student," and all rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student.  Therefore, a student must consent to the release of his or her own educational records.  In the event that a student is a legal dependent, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, the parent may assert the right to review the educational records upon presentation of a copy of the appropriate IRS form (most recent tax return), documenting dependent status, as well as his or her own photo identification.  The College shall keep a photocopy of the IRS form and photo identification in the student file.

Annual notification:The College will notify students of their FERPA rights via publication in the College’s catalog, electronic resources (LMC website, student portal), at new student orientation, publication in the student handbook, and by email.

Deceased students: The privacy interests of an individual expire with that individual’s death.  Since FERPA would no longer apply, discretionary review by appropriate College personnel will be used in reviewing requests for deceased students’ information.  All requests must be submitted in writing to the Registrar defining information requested and purpose of request along with a death certificate or other documentation verifying the death of the student (if the College does not already have the student file recorded as deceased).

Statement of safeguarding student records: All Lake Michigan College employees are required to protect the privacy of student records and abide by the following:

  • Safeguarding of student data shall be the responsibility of each staff member having knowledge of such data.
  • Due care shall be exercised to protect student data from unauthorized use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction.
  • Applicable federal and state laws and college policies and procedures concerning storage, retention, use, release, transportation, and destruction of student data shall be followed.
  • College procedures shall be followed in reporting any breach of security or compromise of safeguards.
  • Any College employee engaging in unauthorized use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction of student data in violation of these statements shall be subject to the appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Lake Michigan College reserves the right to deny the release of a student’s official transcript or copies of a student’s educational record if the student has an unpaid financial obligation to the college.  However, the student is still entitled to view such records and may make arrangements with the Registrar to do so in the event that the obligation cannot be cleared in a timely manner.

Definitions: The following definitions apply to terms as they are used in this policy:

Student: All attendees of Lake Michigan College, past or present, regardless of age or status in regard to parental/guardian dependency. Students who have applied for admission but have not attended are not protected under FERPA.

Educational Records: Educational records are those records, files, documents, or other materials which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by the College or by a party acting on behalf of the College. This includes any information or data recorded in any medium such as: handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, and any electronic storage or retrieval media.

Educational records exclude the following: sole possession records (i.e., those records which are the sole possession of the originator and not accessible by other College personnel); employment records relating to students who are employed by LMC, unless the employment is a result of the student’s status as a student; reports or records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional that are used only in connection with the treatment of the student and are not available to anyone other than those providing such treatment; campus security records; alumni information which is not related to previous attendance as a student; records which relate exclusively to individuals in their capacity as College employees; financial records of the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s).

College official: A College official is a person employed by Lake Michigan College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collections agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee such as a grievance or disciplinary committee, or assisting another College official in performing his or her tasks. 

Legitimate educational interest: A College official has legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

Responsibility:  Vice President, Student Services 

References:     Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C § 1232g

                         Solomon Amendment of 1997, PL 104-206, Section 509(2)

                         Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152

Related Forms: Information Release Authorization (FERPA)

                          Directory Information Confidentiality Request

                          Information Release Cancelation Request

Related Procedures:  Student Right to Hearing for Denied Information Amendment Request

                                    Breach of Data Security Notification and Plan of Action

                                    Annual Notification of Rights

                                    Disclosure of Student Information

Documents and Files

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