FERPA: It's the law

Faculty and staff must abide by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment), which states that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student records.

FERPA gives the student “the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from educational records.” An education record is defined as any record that directly identifies a student and is maintained by the institution. The student has a right to inspect and review any departmental or college records you maintain on him/her except for ‘sole possession records’ (sole possession record is a record you never share with anyone else and is maintained solely by you. Sole possession records are not subject to FERPA). Education records can exist in various mediums including handwritten, typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, email and others. Therefore, the following guidelines should be followed:

Public Posting of Grades

Public posting of grades that include identifiable information is PROHIBITED. The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, student id number, or social security number without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the public posting of grades to a class/institutional website and applies to any public posting of grades in hallways, mailboxes, departmental offices for all students including those taking distance courses. Return graded materials directly to the student or have the student provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope. If you want to share examples of “quality work”, have a signed release from the student.

If you wish to post publicly, use random numbers or letters which are known only to you and the student. Do not post grades using student names, initials, or any part of the student ID number.

Emailing Students

Emailing confidential information to a non-CGCC email address is prohibited. It is always best to use the student email address assigned by CGCC , first initial, last name, last four digits of their student id, @student.cgcc.us (john.smith@student.cgcc.edu). If you are sending an email to more than one student, please use the blind copy (bcc) feature - send the email to yourself, blind copy the students.

Staff and Faculty using email are responsible for protecting student information. Any information about grades and or other student record inquiries should be made using CGCC email account.

Attendance Records

Do not share a student's attendance records with anyone but the student. Circulation of a class list for attendance is a violation of FERPA if it contains identifiable information such as student id numbers.

Class Rosters

Do not share class roster information. Class rosters contain personal information about your students. Do not give or show them to students for any reason. Do not share contact information such as phone numbers or addresses to another student.

Letters of Reference

Have a release of information form signed by the student before you write a letter of reference. Use a Release of Information form (obtainable from Student Services or downloadable/printable here).

Sharing Information with Other Faculty or Staff

Do so only on a need-to-know basis and for educational purposes. Generally, observations regarding the student can be shared so long as they are not about the student record. For example, you cannot report that Brighton Early received an A in his class. You can offer the personal observation that Brighton Early is a hard worker.

Talking to Parents or Spouse about Student

Do not share student information with parents, spouses, or others. Explain that the federal law (FERPA) requires the institution to hold education records confidential unless the student signs a release for or other specific requirements are met. This includes students under 18 years of age. Faculty and staff should not speak to parents without first checking with Student Services, to verify that the student has signed a release.

If you have questions about FERPA, or a request for information about a student, send it to Mary Martin, Registrar.