Privacy Rights of Students

On May 20,1975, Tennessee Tech approved a statement of policy that includes provisions for the release of information about students and the rights of students and others to have access to Tech’s education records. The policy, revised to conform to final regulations of the U.S. Department of HEW issued on June 17, 1976, is as follows:

  1. Definitions:
    1. Education Records. “EDUCATION RECORDS” is defined as those records, files, documents, and other material which (1) contain information directly related to a student and (2) are maintained by TTU or by a person acting for the University. They do not include: (1) personal notes; (2) records available only to law enforcement personnel; (3) employment records; (4) medical and psychiatric records (these are accessible by the student’s physician).
    2. Student. A student is any person who is or has been enrolled at TTU. Wherever “student” is used in reference to personal rights, an eligible parent of a dependent student has similar rights. This “eligible” parent is one who has satisfied Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, and who presents proof of such to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Enrollment Management. Normally, this will be a written affirmation by the student and the parent declaring that the student is a dependent for Federal Income Tax purposes.
    3. Directory Information. “Directory Information” is defined as: “The student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student”. At the time a student registers for courses, the student may notify the Records Office (this must be done in writing) that directory information for that student may not be released. This notification is effective only for the one semester for which the student is then registering.
    4. Access. To have access to an EDUCATION RECORD is to be allowed to see the original record. It implies the right to obtain copies of that record.
  2. Release of Personally Identifiable Student EDUCATION RECORDS.Tennessee Technological University shall not permit access to, or the release of, any information in the EDUCATION RECORDS of any student that is personally identifiable, other than Directory Information, without the written consent of the student, to any party other than the following:
    1. TTU employees who have legitimate educational interests, including the support of honor societies, academic excellence, and University organizations, and readmission and disciplinary proceedings
    2. Officials of other schools in which the student seeks admission
    3. Appropriate persons in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid
    4. Federal or State officials as defined in paragraph 99.35 of the regulations concerning this law
    5. State and local officials authorized by State statute
    6. Organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, TTU for the purpose of assisting in accomplishing the University’s stated goals. When such information will be used only by such organizations and subsequently destroyed when no longer needed for the intended purpose
    7. Accrediting organization, to carry out their functions
    8. Parents having prior written consent by the student or parents of a dependent student as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (written consent may be allowed from either of these separated or divorced parents subject to any agreement between the parents or court order. In the case of a student whose legal guardian is an institution, a party independent of the institution, appointed under state and local law to give parental consent, may be allowed to do so);
    9. In compliance with judicial order or subpoena, provided that the student is notified in advance of the compliance
    10. Appropriate persons in connection with an emergency if such knowledge is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons. NOTE: With the exception of TTU officials and staff, who have been determined by the University to have legitimate educational interests, a notation will be made in a record which is kept with, and becomes a part of, each student’s EDUCATION RECORD of all individuals and agencies who have requested or obtained access to a student’s record.
  3. Procedure for Accessing EDUCATION RECORDS. The student requests the custodian to allow him to peruse the EDUCATION RECORD. The student may ask for an explanation and/or a copy of the given EDUCATION RECORD. After consultation with the custodian, errors may be corrected at that time by the custodian. Thereafter, if the student believes the RECORD to be accurate in content, he/she should acknowledge with his/her signature and the date; if the student believes the Record content to be inaccurate, he/she may submit a request for a formal hearing. The request and the challenge, must be presented in writing to the Director of Records and Registration who will: (1) appoint an Appeals Committee consisting of four RECORD custodians (none of who is custodian of the RECORD in question) with one of the four designated as chairman, and (2) designate a time and place for the first meeting. The Appeals Committee will convene with the student within forty-five days from the date of the request, allowing the student and/or his/her designee to present relevant evidence. A written decision will be given to the student within forty-five days after the conclusion of the hearing. Thereupon, the student may submit to the Committee a written explanation to be inserted into the RECORD. If the Committee believes the statement to be pertinent, the explanation will be inserted into the RECORD. NOTE: This procedure does not provide for a hearing to contest the assignment of an academic grade.
  4. Right of Access Does Not Include:
    1. Financial records of parents or any information therein
    2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendations which were placed in the EDUCATION RECORDS prior to January 1, 1975
    3. RECORDS to which access has been waived by a student (this applies only if a student, upon request, is notified of the names of all persons making confidential recommendations and, if such recommendations are used solely for the purpose they were intended).
  5. EDUCATION RECORDS may be destroyed except that a student shall be granted access prior to destruction if such is requested.
  6. TTU shall inform students of its policy governing “Privacy Rights of Students” by publishing it in the annual Student Handbook and in the Fall Semester Schedule of Classes. The Catalog should indicate where the policy may be found along with the definition of an “eligible” parent.