Student Educational Privacy Rights
Ave Maria University - Latin American Campus
Policy Statement on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a Federal law stating (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Access to Records Policy
Ave Maria University - Latin American Campus accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent. No one outside the institution shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose, any information from student’s educational records without the written consent of students, except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students’ financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the act.
Within the University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students’ educational interests are allowed access to student education records. These members include personnel in the administrative offices and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.
Release of Student Information to Parents
Within the limits of the law, Ave Maria University will consider releasing information from a dependent student’s record to his or her parents. If the student has not given the approval to release such information, the parent must provide written documentation (i.e., copy of tax form) verifying that the student was declared a dependent student on the parent’s most recent tax form. This verification should be mailed to the Registrar. Certification that a student has dependent status will be honored only for the current academic year; therefore, requests for release of information in subsequent academic semesters must be preceded by updated documentation. Non-directory information of students with independent status cannot be released to parents or any third party without the student’s written consent.
At its discretion, the institution may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the act to include: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, class schedule, dates of attendance, degrees, awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of class for the fall term. Students beginning studies in the spring term may notify the Registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of class for the spring term. Request for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold directory information must be filed annually in the Registrar’s Office.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files should they feel the decisions of the hearing panel is unacceptable. Students wishing to review their educational records must make a written request to the Registrar for academic records, the Dean of Student Life for disciplinary records, or the Director of Career Planning and Placement for placement records. Only records covered by the act will be made available within forty-five days of the request.
Students may have copies of their records made with certain exceptions (e.g., a copy of the academic records for which financial ‘hold’ exists or a transcript of an original or source document, which exists elsewhere). These copies would be made at the student’s expense at prevailing rates listed in the current Catalog. Educational records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel that are the sole possession of the college. Such records are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute. Also, not included are records of the security unit, the University student health records, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the student’s choosing.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment, job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or educational records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975 provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purpose for which they were collected.
Challenge on Information
Students, who believe that their educational records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their concerns informally with the administrator maintaining the records in question. If a decision is in agreement with the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and s/he will be informed of their right to a formal hearing. A request for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Academic Dean who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such a request, will inform the student of the date, place, and time of the hearing. A student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearing by one or more persons of his or her choice, including attorneys, at the student’s expense. The hearing panel that will adjudicate such challenges will be the Academic Dean, the Dean of Student Life, and the Department Chair.
Decisions of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The educational records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place statements commenting on the information in the records with the educational records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel. The statements will be placed in the educational records, maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
A student who believes that the adjudication of the challenge was unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request an appeal in writing from the President of the University. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged, may file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), Department of Health and Human Resources, Washington, DC 20201, concerning the alleged failures of Ave Maria University to comply with the act. Revisions and clarification of the institution’s Policy warants.