FERPA Information for Faculty & Staff
The information provided below is taken from the 2006 FERPA Guide, written and published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). This guide is written in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Compliance Office, which is responsible for providing assistance to ensure compliance with FERPA, and which investigates, processes, and reviews FERPA complaints and violations.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
“Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person’s personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student who is the subject of the recommendation. However, if personally identifiable information obtained from a student’s education record is included in a letter of recommendation (grades, GPA, # of credits, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which (1) specifies the records that may be disclosed, (2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made (Sample shown below). The Registrar’s Office can also provide you with a “Letter of Recommendation Permission Release” form which can be completed by the student and maintained with a copy of the letter of recommendation. To access the Letter of Recommendation Permission Release, please visit our Forms page.
If kept on file by the person writing the recommendation, the letter of recommendation and student release would be part of the student’s education record and the student has the right to read it unless he or she has waived their right to access (AACRAO 2006 FERPA Guide, p. 29).”
Sample Permission Letter for Writing a Letter of Recommendation
I give permission for Dr. Reid to write a letter
of recommendation to:
Dr. Reid has my permission to include my grades, GPA, and class rank in this letter.
I waive/do not waive my right to review a copy of this letter at any time in the future.
POSTING OF GRADES BY FACULTY
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, school identification number, or social security number without the student’s prior written consent is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades to a class website and applies to any public posting of grades for students taking distance education courses.
Instructors who wish to post grades should use a system that ensures that FERPA requirements are met. This can be accomplished by obtaining the student’s written consent or by using a unique identifier known only to the student and the instructor. The order of posting should not be alphabetic.
PARENTAL ACCESS TO AN ELIGIBLE STUDENT’S EDCUATION RECORDS
At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect their son’s or daughter’s education records. The right to access is limited solely to the student.
Records may be release to parents only if certain conditions are met. Therefore, all faculty and staff should refer such requests to the Registrar’s Office.
HELPFUL HINTS TO AVOID FERPA VIOLATIONS!
- Never circulate a class list containing social security number or student identification number.
- Do not leave confidential student information displayed on an unattended computer or desk.
- Do not share student educational record information with other school officials unless a legitimate educational interest exists.
- Never release non-directory designated information over the phone to a third-party, without the written consent from the student. In addition, it would be a FERPA violation to release “directory” designated information to a third party if the student has a FERPA hold on their information.
- Refer requests for student information to the Registrar’s Office.