FERPA - FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT
Interpretations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also known as FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) have important implications for the handling and releasing of student education record information by campus offices and school officials. FERPA applies to the “education records” (see next paragraph for definition) of “students.” “Students” are defined as those individuals who are or have been enrolled in classes (credit and/or non-credit) at the University. FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for formal admission to the University who are denied acceptance or, if accepted, do not enroll in classes for credit. In addition, rights are not given by FERPA to students enrolled in one component of UW-Whitewater who seek to be admitted in another component (e.g., a student enrolled in an undergraduate program, but is denied admission to a graduate program, does not have any FERPA rights in the graduate program which denied him/her admission).
“Education records” are those UW-W records that are directly related to a student and that are maintained by the University or by a school official who serves the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including student employees or agents of the University, persons/companies with whom the University has contracted, persons serving on official campus committees, or persons assisting other school officials in performing their tasks).
FERPA indicates that UWW “education records” do not include:
Important exception: Notes taken in conjunction with any other person are not “sole possession records.” Sharing information with another person or placing information where it can be viewed by others makes it an “education record” and subject to FERPA.
Important exception: Placing law enforcement records where they can be viewed or accessed by others outside the law enforcement unit makes them “education records” and subject to FERPA.
Important exception: Records of students who are employed as a result of their status as UW-W students are “education records” (e.g., work-study, graduate assistants) and subject to FERPA.
UW-Whitewater, in accordance with FERPA, has designated categories of information about individual students as public “directory information.” The following "directory information" will be routinely released to any inquirer unless the student formally requests that it be restricted:
A student has the right to restrict the release of all of the above directory information. A student who wishes to do so must complete and file the “Request to Prevent Disclosure of directory information” form in the Registrar’s Office, Roseman Building room 2032. The restriction will remain in effect until the student files written notification with the Registrar’s Office to have it removed. A student who has ceased attending UW-W, and whose directory information was not restricted in his/her last term of attendance, does not have the right to restrict the release of directory information until such time as he/she re-enrolls at the University.
A student who is considering restricting the release of his/her “Directory Information” should weigh carefully the consequences of doing so. If a student decides to inform the University not to release his/her directory information, future requests for such information from non-University persons or organizations will be refused. For example, UW-W would not release enrollment verification information to the student’s health insurance provider or a prospective employer, and the student’s name would not appear in the commencement booklet.
In addition to the items listed above, UW-Whitewater has designated photographs and images that are taken of students at University-sponsored activities as information that may appear in University publications, brochures, etc., without the written consent of students.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS AND STUDENT ACCESS TO EDUCATION RECORDS
The essence of FERPA can be summarized by the following two points:
A consent form can be downloaded from the web at: http://www.uww.edu/registrar/ (under the FERPA section, click on “Authorization to Release Records”).
CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS
FERPA generally prohibits the release of confidential personally identifiable student data, with limited exceptions that include “directory information” (see below), without the student’s written, signed consent.
Personally identifiable student data, other than “directory information” for students who have not restricted its release, are confidential. Examples of confidential information include, but are not limited to, ID number, social security number, date of birth, ethnicity, gender, country of citizenship, percentile ranks, class schedules (including meeting times and locations), grades, and grade point averages.
Parents have no inherent or legal rights to inspect or receive information about their children’s education records, regardless of age, without the written consent of the student.
FERPA provides certain exceptions for the release of personally identifiable education record information without the student’s written consent. These exceptions include:
Disclosure of education record information to a UW-W school official having a legitimate educational interest does not constitute institutional authorization for that school official to transmit, share, or disclose any or all of that information to a third party. A disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education record of a student, without the student’s written consent, is prohibited unless the disclosure meets one of the specific exceptions cited in FERPA as outlined in the following section.
UW-W school officials conducting research using student education records may be required to explain the use of the records in writing. Student organizations that need confidential information about their members may be required to obtain the signatures of all members on a form explaining how the information is to be used (the signatures must be obtained before the information will be released).
School officials who have access to student education record information assume the legal responsibility for protecting the privacy and security of the information.
STUDENT ACCESS TO EDUCATION RECORDS
The student will have access to education records directly related to him/her that are maintained by the University, or any of its agents, and to which FERPA applies.
A student may request access to review and inspect his/her education records by writing to the University official (i.e., registrar, dean, department chair, or other appropriate UW-W person/office) responsible for the records. The written request must indicate the records the student wishes to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct person/office to whom the request should be addressed, and it becomes the student’s responsibility to submit the request to that person/office. Upon receipt of the written request, the University has 45 days to comply. FERPA does not provide the student with the right to access certain records, including:
A student has the right to request an amendment of his/her education record that is believed to be inaccurate. However, FERPA was not intended to provide a process to be used by the student to question substantive judgments that are correctly recorded. The FERPA rights of challenge are not intended to allow a student to contest, for example, a grade in a course because he/she felt a higher grade should have been assigned. FERPA is intended to ensure the factual and accurate nature of the information in the student’s educational records and the student’s right to verify that information.
In those cases where FERPA intended to provide a student the right to request an amendment to an education record, the student should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record s/he wants changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of this right.
In the process of challenging the education record information, the student may wish to have copies of appropriate documents in his/her education record file. The University may assess the student a reasonable per copy fee for such documents. This charge does not apply to copies of the student’s official academic transcript (there is a minimum $7.00 charge for each official transcript; the fee is subject to change at any time). A request for a copy of any document in an education record will be denied if the student has a hold/service indicator on his/her records that prevents the release of the official academic transcript, or if the document is a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere.
If UW-Whitewater decides, as a result of a hearing, not to amend the education record in accordance with the student’s request, the student may place a written statement in the record commenting upon the information therein, and/or setting forth any reason for disagreement with the institutional decision not to amend the record. Such a statement will become part of the student’s education record and will be disclosed with it.
The student has a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by UW-Whitewater to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
DECEASED STUDENT EDUCATION RECORDS
FERPA rights cease upon a student’s death. Accordingly, the disposition of UWW education records pertaining to a deceased student is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. UW-W does not permit the release of education record information of a deceased student for 25 years after his/her death unless authorized by the executor/executrix of the deceased student’s estate, or the student’s parents, or the student’s next of kin if the student’s parents are also deceased and an executor/executrix has not been appointed. However, deceased student educational records may be shared with UW-W school officials who have a legitimate educational interest as defined in earlier sections of the FERPA policy. Records may also be made available for UW-W research purposes.
The University believes that academic honesty and integrity are fundamental to the mission of higher education and of the University of Wisconsin System. The University has a responsibility to promote academic honesty and integrity and to develop procedures to deal effectively with instances of academic dishonesty. Students are responsible for the honest completion and representation of their work, for the appropriate citation of sources, and for respect of others’ academic endeavors. Students who violate these standards are subject to disciplinary action. UWS Chapter 14 identifies procedures to be followed when a student is accused of academic misconduct. For additional information, please refer to the section in the Student Handbook titled, Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures.
STUDENT DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES
Complete copies of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Student Non-Academic Disciplinary Procedures (Administrative Code UWS Chapter 14 and UWS Chapter 17) are available on the UW-Whitewater Web page at http://www.uww.edu/handbook/student/.
For information, regarding these procedures, contact the Office of Student Life at (262) 472-1533.
SYNOPSIS OF THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR STUDENT GRIEVANCES:
The notifying of instructors and arranging of make-up work in cases involving absence of students from class are the responsibility of the student. A student who is absent should notify instructors by phone or in person of the absence as soon as possible. If contact with instructors cannot be made directly, the student should see that a note is placed in each instructor’s mailbox, explaining the nature of the situation and inquiring about the effect of the absence on the student’s course work. If that is impossible, the student should call the academic departments involved.
In serious situations where the student is incapacitated and temporarily unable to perform the aforementioned responsibilities, family members may contact the Office of New Student Programs & First Year Experience (phone (262) 472-3205) for assistance with these matters. The New Student Programs & First Year Experience office would then provide notification (not verification) of the absence to the instructors involved. However, arrangements for make-up work, make-up exams or possible assignment adjustments are entirely the responsibility of the student. The Student Health Service and the New Student Programs & First Year Experience offices do not provide excuses for absences from class due to illness.
If students have questions or need consultation regarding specific situations, they are encouraged to contact their instructors or the academic department involved.
ABSENCE FOR UNIVERSITY-SPONSORED EVENTS
University policy adopted by Faculty Senate and the Whitewater Student Government states that students will not be academically penalized for missing class in order to participate in university-sanctioned events. They will be provided an opportunity to make up any work that is missed, and if class attendance is a requirement, missing a class in order to participate in a university-sanctioned event will not be counted as an absence. A university-sanctioned event is defined to be any intercollegiate athletic contest or other such event as determined by the Provost. Activity sponsors are responsible for obtaining the Provost’s prior approval of an event as being university-sanctioned and for providing an official list of participants. Students are responsible for notifying their instructors in advance of their participation in such events.
ACCOMMODATION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
It is the policy of the Board of Regents that students’ sincerely held religious beliefs shall be reasonably accommodated with respect to scheduling all examinations and other academic requirements.
For additional information or to file a grievance regarding a failure to provide reasonable accommodation, please contact the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity Compliance (Hyer Hall, Room 330, Phone (262) 472-1072).
NON-DISCRIMINATION STATUTES RELATIVE TO UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER STUDENTS
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Wisconsin Statute 36.12 provide collectively, and in part, that no student may be denied admission to participation in, or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the (UW) system or its institutions or centers because of the student’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital or parental status.
The Title IX Coordinator for UW-Whitewater is the Assistant to the Chancellor for Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (phone (262) 472-1072). Title IX specifically prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions.
In determining whether discrimination in violation of Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 or Title IX has occurred, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, through its Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO), shall apply state and federal statutes, regulations, and case law relevant to the basis of discrimination being alleged, including but not limited to such legal materials and precedents as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, American Disabilities Act, Wis. Stats. 101.223, Wis. Stats. 36.11(3)(a), the United States Constitution, the Wisconsin Constitution, and related regulations and case law. In any case where there is a question as to whether the action or conduct in question violates Wis. Stats. 36.12 or Title IX, the OEO shall consult with institutional legal counsel.
NON-DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which receives or benefits from Federal financial assistance.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) states that “No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity.” This is reinforced by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (2009).
Applicants or students who believe that they may have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability in any campus program, activity, or service should contact the ADA Compliance Coordinator (employment and non-employment), 330 Hyer Hall, (262) 472-1072.
SAFETY AND HEALTH POLICY
The University of Wisconsin System will provide and maintain adequate facilities for a safe and healthy learning environment. It is the University’s responsibility to work with faculty and staff so that they are equipped to educate their students on practices and procedures that ensure safety for all members of the University. Employees with instructional responsibilities are expected to comply with state and federal safety laws and regulations in their institutional areas. Certain courses and research projects require that students work with hazardous materials while engaging in academic studies. Instructors of these courses and research projects shall inform and train students on procedures that will maintain the students’ personal health and safety and provide them with information on the hazards of specific chemicals that will be used during their course of study. Furthermore, instructors will enforce and follow safety policies. Prior to use of hazardous materials and equipment, the student shall review the procedures and information, and discuss any associated concerns with the instructor.
USE OF HUMAN PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH
Federal law and University policy require that all research projects involving human participants be designed as much as possible to protect the rights of the participants. This pertains to projects for classes on research methodology, independent studies, and thesis research. Prior to initiation of the work, each proposal involving human participants and its provisions for their protection must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Participants (IRB). This includes surveys. Research which has not been reviewed and approved by the IRB will not be covered by UW-Whitewater liability insurance.
It is the policy of UW-Whitewater that all research shall be conducted under the supervision of a qualified faculty or staff member. Therefore, all students must submit an IRB protocol review form signed by the faculty advisor.
All IRB forms and guidelines can be obtained from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 2243 Andersen Library. Please contact this office at (262) 472-5212 with questions and document requests.
CARE AND USE OF LABORATORY ANIMALS
All students involved in the care or use of animals and all facilities used for such animals must operate within the guidelines of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Copies of the Guide and other pertinent materials may be obtained from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 2243 Andersen Library, (262) 472-5212.
STUDENTS CALLED TO MILITARY SERVICE
Students called to active service during the course of a semester must choose one of the following options before departing for active service:
The Legal Services Program of the Whitewater Student Government provides free legal advice to students one afternoon per week by appointment. Contact the WSG Office, University Center, (262) 472-1471, for more information.