FERPA Guidelines for UWSP Faculty and Staff
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended entitle students to review "official records, files, and data directly related" to the students which the university maintains. Students may also request a hearing regarding any alleged "inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate" information. In most circumstances, the university will not release information from student’s records to third parties without their consent. An interpretation of the law is printed below, and copies of it are available in the Office of the Registrar, Room 101 SSC.
The following basic FERPA rules should be followed by UWSP faculty and staff:
FERPA recognizes a person enrolled in post-secondary education as a "student" and provides that individual certain rights, regardless of age. Therefore, a parent does not have an inherent right to access his/her student's education records.
Faculty and staff may have access to education records for the sole purpose of performing their jobs professionally and responsibly. They have a responsibility to protect the confidentiality of education records in their possession, regardless of the medium in which the records are presented.
- The same requirements and responsibilities for a school official also exists for student workers.
- University offices hiring student employees should require each employee to sign a Statement of FERPA Understanding acknowledge that they fully understand that the intentional disclosure of information to any unauthorized person is a violation of both FERPA and University of WI-Stevens Point policy. Disclosure of information could constitute just cause for disciplinary action including termination of employment regardless of whether criminal or civil penalties are imposed.
Education records are considered confidential and may not be released, with the exception of unrestricted Directory Information. In some instances students may have restricted their directory information so it is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and student workers to verify that Directory Information is not restricted before releasing it.
The student ID photo is defined as confidential and should not be used or displayed in any public setting without the student's permission. Class lists and student photos are confidential under university policy and federal law.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, requires that students be advised of their rights concerning their education records and of certain categories of public information which the university has designated "directory information."
Class Lists & Class Schedules
Class lists and class schedules are non-directory information and cannot be released.
Canvas and Combining Sections
When you combine
multiple sections in Canvas, students can see information about students in all
sections combined. Therefore, instructors who combine multiple sections should
follow the instructions at the Canvas site under heading of Crosslisting and FERPA, to reduce potential FERPA issues. Courses combined in accesSPoint
come into Canvas already combined and do not present a FERPA concern.
The student ID photo is defined as confidential and should not be used or displayed in any public setting without the student's permission.
Posting education records (e.g. grades) using the student's name, student ID number, or any portion of the social security number is a violation of FERPA. Instructors are encouraged to use Canvas 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. Any questions regarding FERPA guidelines should be directed to the Office of the Registrar, Room 101 SSC, or by calling 715-346-4301. See also Reporting Final Grades.
Privacy of Student Records/Classroom Performance
Federal law affords students privacy regarding nearly all aspects of their academic performance. This includes any information regarding their performance in the classroom including grades, test scores, and class schedules. When any individual, including a parent/guardian(s) or potential employer, contacts a University official or professor regarding a student's academic performance, the official/professor must first obtain written permission from the student before releasing that information. This release form protects the rights of the student as well as affording protection to University personnel.
Letters of Recommendation
If a student asks an instructor/advisor for a letter of recommendation, and GPA is included, a letter of recommendation release is required. A recommender's statements based on personal observations or knowledge do not require a written release from a student. This letter of recommendation release protects the rights of the student as well as affording protection to University personnel under FERPA. Letter of Recommendation Release (signed form)