UWSP Confidentiality Agreement on FERPA Protected Data
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. The law applies to all educational institutions that provide educational services to students. The guidelines outlined here are to help faculty and staff continue our compliance efforts with FERPA.
What is your responsibility as faculty/staff?
As a university official, you are required to comply with FERPA. As a member of the university community, you are given access to private information about students as a legitimate educational interest to:
- Perform a task that is specified in your position description or contract;
- Perform a task related to a students education or student discipline;
- Provide a service or benefit related to the student; or
- Maintain safety and security on campus
- Students trust that you are using that information appropriately and it is important as a university that we honor that trust.
What should faculty and staff be doing when it comes to FERPA?
- Access student records only if you have a legitimate educational interest.
- Maintain the privacy of all student academic work (paper and electronic) at all times, including at work, at home, and in transit.
- Never allow students to pick up their work by sorting through stacks of graded materials which include classmates work.
- Do not use personal information, including student name, ID, and SSN, or a portion of any ID/SSN numbers for the public posting of grades. Instructors are encouraged to use D2L to communicate grades and grade progress to their students. If grades need to be posted, faculty should use a random number that only the instructor and the student know. When posting these random numbers and grades make sure you do not alphabetize the list therefore losing the anonymity of the student.
- Keep in mind when working with student records that non-directory information should also be protected. A simple request of a class schedule by another student, if provided, would be a violation of FERPA.
- If a student asks you for a letter of recommendation, and you include personal academic information (i.e. grades earned) in the letter, then a letter of recommendation release form is required. A recommender's statements based on personal observations or knowledge does not require a written release from a student.
Student Safety and FERPA
While FERPA protects a students privacy and educational records, it does not bar university officials from sharing critical information about troubled students with appropriate parties. Instructors who see their students on a regular basis are often the first to observe serious personal problems or troubling behavior. University officials, including faculty and instructional staff, are permitted and encouraged to share information about a student who is or might be considered a risk to him or herself or others.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is committed to the protection and confidentiality of student educational records. The University annually notifies students of their rights under FERPA and takes great measures to protect the privacy and disclosure of student educational records as print or electronic documents. For more information, go to the UWSP FERPA website to review additional policies and guidelines.