FERPA for Faculty
The public posting of grades either by the student's name, institutional student identification number, or social security number, without the student's written permission, is a violation of FERPA. Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered personally identifiable information and therefore violate FERPA. Instructors can assign students unique numbers or codes that can be used to post grades. However, the order of the posting must not be alphabetic.
Leaving personally identifiable, graded papers unattended for students to view is no different from posting grades in the hallway. If these papers contain "personally identifiable" information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA if the instructor has not obtained the written permission of each student to do so. A possible solution would be either to leave the graded papers (exams, quizzes, and homework) with an assistant or secretary who would ask students for proper identification prior to distributing them or to leave them in a sealed envelope with only the student's name on it.
Sending grades to students
Instructors can notify students of their final grades via the U.S. Mail if the information is enclosed in an envelope. Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student's privacy. Notification of grades via e-mail is permissible. However, there is no guarantee of confidentiality.
Access to student records
Faculty members are normally considered "school officials." But, the faculty member will have to demonstrate "a legitimate educational interest" in their request to access student records, e.g. advising students, retention study, etc. However, faculty do not have access to student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access.
Parents requesting information
Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student's education record. This information is protected under FERPA and the parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s). Check with the Office of the Registrar to verify if written authorization has been granted.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an educational institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.
Letters of recommendation
Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the "education record" (grades, GPA and other non-directory information). Faculty must not list grade or GPA information in a letter of recommendation without first receiving this permission.
The privacy rights of an individual expire with that individual's death. Records held by an institution for a deceased person are not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. Hartwick will exercise its own discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, information should be disclosed to survivors or third parties. To that end, records will only be released to immediate family upon proof of lineage or under request of a legal official or subpoena in compliance with release under normal FERPA circumstances. Records of deceased students will also be released to those that can provide notarized proof of lineage (for non-immediate family members), usually in the form of a certified letter from the executor of the deceased student's estate.
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) considers "Teaching Assistants" or "TAs"- whether graduate students or undergraduates - to be an extension of a faculty member, and, as a result, TA's are afforded access to protected student information. Any TA who is provided access to protected grade information for other students (scores on quizzes, homework, etc.), must by law be familiar with FERPA regulations that apply to faculty and staff. As a TA, that individual assumes responsibility for adhering to all applicable FERPA laws.
To remove the burden of such training from faculty members, and for liability purposes, all TAs who have access, or will be provided access, to student grade information must attend a required FERPA training session with the Office of the Registrar, and must sign and date a memorandum of understanding of FERPA before accessing any grade information.
These roughly 30 minute training sessions are available by appointment; students should the Office of the Registrar at (607) 431-4435 to schedule an appointment. At the conclusion of the training, the student will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, a copy of which will be placed in the student's education record and provided to the course instructor.
Who to contact with questions/concerns
Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Hartwick Office of the Registrar at 607-431-4460.