This notice provides a summary of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), often referred to as the “Buckley Amendment,” and University policy regarding the confidentiality of student records. For more detail, the University policy, which incorporates legal requirements, is available online.
In general, University faculty and staff may not disclose personally identifiable information from a student or applicant’s records except with the student’s written consent. Some of the most common exceptions to this rule are:
- To school officials with a “legitimate educational interest” – in other words, where the information is required or would be helpful in the performance of his or her duties, or in the pursuit of an enterprise sanctioned by the University;
- To another school in which a student or applicant seeks to enroll;
- To parents if the parent properly documents that the student is a dependent for tax purposes;
- As required by other law.
University faculty and staff may disclose directory information, such as name, address, telephone number, and other designated demographic data, without the student’s consent, unless the student has chosen to object to such disclosure by “opting-out.” Students can exercise their right to opt-out by contacting the University Registrar’s office.
As a general rule, University faculty and staff must inform any recipient of student records that they may not re-disclose that information unless they obtain the student’s written consent.
In certain cases, such as injury and in emergency situations, the University may contact parents regarding a student. Disclosure decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by designated University officials in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel.
Students are entitled to inspect and review their records. They are not entitled to inspect personal notes of faculty or administrative staff that are solely held by the maker of the notes, confidential letters and statements subject to waiver, or parts of their record that contain information about another student. Students may be allowed to copy their records, upon payment of a nominal charge. Students also have the right to seek correction of their records.
Officials responsible for student records, such as the Registrar and school or department business offices, are required to maintain a record of requests for access and disclosures of student records, except in cases where the request was from or the disclosure was to: the student, school officials with legitimate educational interests, a party with consent from the student or a party seeking directory information.
For more detail, the University policy, which incorporates legal requirements, is available in the PennBook here.