RELEASE OF EDUCATION RECORDS & NOTIFICATION OF YOUR RIGHTS UNDER FERPA
Tennessee Tech University (“Tennessee Tech”) maintains Education Records on every student who enrolls. An “Education Record” is defined as personally identifiable information recorded in any way that is directly related to a student and is maintained by Tennessee Tech or a party acting for Tennessee Tech.
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g (“FERPA”) and Tennessee Tech Policy, 1206 Confidentiality of Student Records and FERPA Compliance, which can be accessed through Tennessee Tech’s Policy Central page, you have certain rights with respect to your Education Records. These rights are included below.
FERPA for Students
- Tech Policy No. 206: Confidentiality of Student Records and FERPA Compliance
This policy establishes and details Tennessee Tech’s policy regarding the confidentiality of Student Education Records and compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
This policy will be reviewed every four years or whenever circumstances require review, whichever is earlier, by the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Career Placement, with recommendations for revision presented to the Administrative Council and University Assembly.
This policy does not apply to Records until the first day of class of the Student’s first semester of attendance or to Records specifically exempted by 34 Code of Federal Regulations 99.3, as may be amended from time to time.
A. Access—right to inspect and review an Education Record. If circumstances effectively prevent a student from exercising the right to inspect and review Education Records, “Access” may also include the student’s right to obtain copies of the Education Record.
B. Directory Information—the Student’s name; the student’s address (electronic mail address, home and campus address) if the disclosure relates to a Tennessee Tech activity, including, but not limited to, a student organization or alumni affairs activity, or for law enforcement purposes; student ID number if the disclosure relates to Tennessee Tech business; home town or city at the time the application for admission was filed by the student; major field of study; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; dates of attendance; enrollment status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time), including progress towards degree (grade level); degrees, honors, and awards received; the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the Student, and photographs or video when related to Tennessee Tech activities.
C. Education Record(s)—personally identifiable information recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, and microfiche, that are:
1. Directly related to a Student; and
2. Maintained by Tennessee Tech or by a party acting for Tennessee Tech.
D. Eligible Parent—a parent, including a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian, who has satisfied Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and who presents proof of such by way of current income tax return, current FAFSA, or similar documentation to the custodian of the record that the parent wishes disclosed.
E. Legitimate Education Interest—any event that requires a School Official to review an Education Record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibilities to Tennessee Tech.
F. Personally Identifiable Information—information including, but not limited to:
1. The student's name;
2. The name of the student's parent or other family members;
3. The address of the student or student's family;
4. A personal identifier, such as the student's social security number, student number, or biometric record;
5. Other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name;
6. Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
7. Information requested by a person who Tennessee Tech reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
G. School Official—a person employed by Tennessee Tech in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including, but not limited to, law enforcement, human resources, academic affairs, and health center positions; a person or company with whom Tennessee Tech has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using Tennessee Tech employees or officials (e.g., attorney, auditor, or collection agent); library administrators and circulation staff at other institutions for the purpose of providing or receiving library resources or assistance; a person serving on the Board; a person employed with or contracted to the Board; a person serving on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; a person employed with or contracted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; a student or employee serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or a person volunteering services to Tennessee Tech, including service on an academic scholarship committee or review panel.
H. Student—any person who is or has been in attendance at Tennessee Tech and regarding whom Tennessee Tech maintains Education Records.
A. Except as provided in 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99, Tennessee Tech shall provide a Student the opportunity to inspect and review the Student's Education Records.
B. Except as provided in 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99, Tennessee Tech will grant Access to a Student’s Education Record to an Eligible Parent, unless providing the Education Record would be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy. Students who wish to prevent such Access must request and receive written permission from the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success.
C. Tennessee Tech shall not permit Access to, or the release of, any Education Record of any Student without the prior written consent of the Student, unless consent is not required pursuant to 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99 or this policy.
D. Except in circumstances where the custodian of the Education Record discloses an Education Record to School Officials who have Legitimate Educational Interests, prior written consent, disclosure of Directory Information, or any other circumstances excepted by 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99, the Registrar will make a record, as defined by 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99.32, of such disclosure and maintain the record with the Student’s Education Record.
E. Directory Information
1. Directory Information may, at Tennessee Tech’s sole discretion, be disclosed without obtaining the prior written consent of the Student.
2. Tennessee Tech annually shall notify Students of their rights under FERPA regarding Directory Information.
3. Students may restrict the release of this Directory Information by annually notifying the Registrar in writing on or before the seventh calendar day of any given semester or term.
VI. Procedure for a Student to Access Education Records
A. A Student has a right to Access his/her Education Records within forty-five (45) calendar days of requesting such records pursuant to this policy.
B. In order to request to Access his/her Education Records, a Student must submit to the custodian of the record a written request that identifies the record(s) the Student wishes to Access.
C. The official receiving the request will determine, in consultation with the University Counsel as necessary, whether any exception under FERPA exists to the right to Access the requested records.
D. If the official determines that an exception applies either to a portion of or to the entire request, the official shall notify the requestor of the denial of that portion of the request and the basis on which such denial is being made.
E. In the absence of an exception to Access, the official shall make arrangements for the Access to any records not covered by a FERPA exception at a reasonable time and place and shall notify the Student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Access shall be provided within a reasonable time that in no event shall exceed forty-five (45) calendar days from the date the request was received by Tennessee Tech.
F. Tennessee Tech may charge the requestor a fee for any copies provided to the requestor. This fee shall not exceed Tennessee Tech’s normal fee for copies.
G. In addition to the Access provided to the Student’s record, upon request of the Student, the appropriate Tennessee Tech official shall provide a Student with an explanation and/or interpretation of his or her record.
H. If the Education Records are not maintained by the Tennessee Tech official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the Student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
I. A Student’s right of Access to Education Records does not include access to records excepted from disclosure pursuant to 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99.12 or any other relevant statute, rule, regulation, or order.
VII. Student’s Right To Request Amendment of Education Records and Related Procedures
A. Student has the right to request the amendment of Education Records that the Student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the Student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
B. To request Tennessee Tech to amend an Education Record, the Student must submit a written request to the custodian of the record. This written request must clearly identify the portion of the record the Student wants amended and must detail the reason(s) for the requested amendment.
C. Such reason(s) shall be limited to the issues of whether the record is inaccurate or misleading in recording the underlying action or whether Tennessee Tech’s placement of the information in the Student’s record is in violation of the Student’s rights.
D. A Student may not use the request for amendment and related procedures to contest the underlying action taken by Tennessee Tech that has been recorded in the Student’s record and under no circumstances shall this procedure be used to contest the assignment of an academic grade.
E. The custodian receiving the request shall review the request and, in consultation with the University Counsel as necessary, determine whether to grant the Student’s request for amendment.
F. Within a reasonable amount of time, the custodian must notify the Student in writing of his/her decision regarding whether to grant or deny the requested amendment.
G. If the custodian grants and makes the requested amendment and the Student then believes the Education Record to be accurate in content, he/she should acknowledge such accuracy in the manner prescribed by the custodian of the Education Record.
H. If the custodian denies the requested amendment, in addition to providing written notification of the denial, the custodian shall provide the Student with written notification of his/her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.
I. Appeal of a denial of a request to amend an Education Record
1. A Student may appeal the denial of a request to amend an Education Record and request a hearing by submitting in writing an appeal to the Registrar within ten (10) business days of receipt of the custodian’s denial of the request to amend the record.
2. Following receipt of a written request for a hearing, the Registrar, in his/her sole discretion and in consultation with the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success, shall appoint a hearing officer or an Appeals Hearing Committee (“Committee”) consisting of four Education Record custodians with one of the four designated by the Registrar as chairperson.
3. Neither the hearing officer nor Committee members shall have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.
4. The hearing officer or Committee chairperson shall set the date for an appeals hearing to be held within forty-five (45) calendar days from the date of the hearing request.
5. The hearing officer or Committee chairperson shall give the Student reasonable notice of no less than ten (10) business days of the date, time, and place of the hearing.
6. At the appeals hearing, the Student shall be allowed to present relevant evidence.
7. A Student may be assisted or represented at the hearing by individual(s) of his/her choice, including but not limited to an attorney.
8. The hearing officer or Committee chairperson will provide to the Student a written decision within forty-five (45) calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing.
9. The hearing officer’s or Committee’s decision must be based solely on evidence presented at the hearing.
10. The hearing officer’s or Committee’s written decision must include both a summary of the evidence considered and a detailed explanation of the rationale for the decision.
11. The hearing officer’s or Committee’s decision shall be final.
12. If the hearing officer or Committee denies the requested amendment, the hearing officer or Committee chairperson must also inform the Student in writing of the Student’s right to place a statement in the file commenting on the information in the file and setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision. This statement must then be maintained in the Education Record and a copy must be provided to anyone to whom the record is provided.
J. Education Records may be destroyed pursuant to the record retention policy, except that, upon request, a Student shall be granted Access prior to destruction.
K. Tennessee Tech shall inform Students of this policy by publishing it on its website.
L. Students wishing to complain of alleged violations of FERPA by Tennessee Tech may file a complaint with either:
1. Office of the Registrar
Tennessee Tech University
P.O. Box 5026
Cookeville, TN 38505
2. Family Policy Compliance
Office U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
The Vice President for Enrollment Management and Career Placement or his/her designee has the final authority to interpret the terms of this policy. IX. Citation of Authority for Policy
T.C.A. § 49-8-203(a)(1)(E); 20 USC § 1232g et seq.
Administrative Council: November 9, 2016
University Assembly: November 16, 2016
- Health and Safety Exceptions Under FERPA
FERPA-Health or Safety Emergency
In an emergency, FERPA permits school officials to disclose without student consent education records, including personally identifiable information from those records, to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. At such times, records and information may be released to appropriate parties such as law enforcement officials, public health officials, and trained medical personnel. This exception to FERPA's general consent rule is limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable information from a student's education records. In addition, FERPA allows school officials to disclose information from education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter. See 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(10) and § 99.36.
While student disciplinary records are protected as education records under FERPA, there are certain circumstances in which disciplinary records may be disclosed without the student's consent. Tennessee Tech may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of that crime, regardless of whether Tennessee Tech concluded a violation was committed. Tennessee Tech may disclose to anyone—not just the victim—the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or nonforcible sex offense, and with respect to the allegation made against him or her, the student has committed a violation of the institution's rules or policies. See 34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(13) and (14).
The Clery Act
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires postsecondary institutions to provide timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees and to make public their campus security policies. It also requires that crime data be collected, reported, and disseminated to the campus community and to the United States Department of Education annually. The Clery Act is intended to provide students and their families with accurate, complete, and timely information about safety on campuses so that they can make informed decisions. Such disclosures are permitted under FERPA.
- The Right to Access to Review Your Education Records
You have the right to access and review your Education Records. Such access must be provided to you within forty-five (45) days after requesting access. To access and review your Education Records, you must submit a written request to the custodian of the records identifying the records you wish to review. The right to access and review your Education Records does not include access to records exempted from disclosure pursuant to 34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 99.12 or any other relevant statute, rule, regulation or order.
Absent an exception to access and review, the custodian of the records will make arrangements for your access and notify you of a time and place where the records may be reviewed. If the official to whom the request was submitted does not maintain the records, that official will advise you of the correct custodian of records to whom your request should be addressed, if the official has that information.
- The Right to Request the Amendment of Your Education Records
You have the right to request the amendment of your Education Records if you believe they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights under FERPA. To amend a record(s), you must submit a written request to the custodian of the records. The written request must clearly identify the portion of the record(s) you want amended, and must detail the reason(s) for the requested amendment. You may not use the request for amendment and related procedures to contest the underlying action taken by the University that has been recorded in your Education Records. Under no circumstances will any student be allowed to contest the assignment of an academic grade under this procedure.
If Tennessee Tech decides not to amend your Education Records as requested, you will be notified in writing of the decision and of your right to a hearing regarding your request for amendment pursuant to Tennessee Tech Policy 265 Confidentiality of Student Records and FERPA Compliance, which can be accessed through Tennessee Tech’s Policy Central page.
- The Right to Restrict the Disclosure of Your Education Record
Except to the Extent FERPA Authorizes Disclosure without Your Consent
Generally, Tennessee Tech must have written permission from you to release any information contained in your Education Record. However, FERPA allows Tennessee Tech to disclose those records, without consent, to the certain parties under the conditions specified in 34 CFR § 99.31. Those exceptions include but are not limited to:
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Schools that have requested records and to which student seeks or intends to enroll;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
One example of authorized disclosure without your consent is disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in your Education Record to school officials who have “legitimate educational interests” in the information. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official has a need to know the information in order to fulfill his or her official responsibilities. For additional information concerning school officials’ access to Education Records at Tennessee Tech, see Tennessee Tech Policy 265 Confidentiality of Student Records and FERPA Compliance, which can be accessed through Tennessee Tech’s Policy Central page.”
- The Right to Restrict the Disclosure of Your Directory Information
Unless you restrict the release of your information in the manner described in the next section of this Notice, Tennessee Tech will deem you to have consented to the disclosure of your Directory Information to anyone and by any means.
Directory Information Includes :
- Student’s name
- Student’s address (electronic mail, home and campus addresses) when the release is related to a Tennessee Tech activity. Tennessee Tech publishes students’ email addresses and PO Box numbers on its web page, but does not disclose physical addresses unless the request relates to a Tennessee Tech activity
- Enrollment status - (undergraduate, graduate, full or part-time)
Hometown or city at the time the application for admission was filed
- Major or field of study - ( Tennessee Tech publishes students’ major information on its web page)
- Dates of attendance
- Grade level - (progress towards degree)
- Honors and awards received
- Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
- Participation in a student organization or alumni affairs activity
- Participation in officially recognized activities or sports
- Weight and Height of athletic team members
- Photographs or video when related to a Tennessee Tech activity
- How to Restrict the Release of Your Directory Information
If you wish to restrict the release of your Directory Information, follow these steps:
- Go to your Eagle Online account
- Select the Personal Information tab
- Select the box immediately before the statement “I do not want my directory information released to individuals, employers, media, etc.”
- Be sure to select “Submit” at the bottom of the page
Please be aware that restricting the release of your Directory Information will prevent Tennessee Tech from providing information to employers that are requesting verification of enrollment and/or degree information. Your information will also NOT be released to news outlets on or off campus, regarding honors and graduation lists.
- How to Permit the Release of Certain Info to Specific Individuals/Organizations
As a student, you also have the right to permit the release of certain information to specific individuals or organizations. This additional information, which is maintained by various Tennessee Tech offices, includes:
- Student account, financial information, etc. (Business Office)
- Academic information such as GPA, grades, academic standing, etc. (Registrar’s Office)
- Financial assistance, scholarships, and other awards, etc. (Financial Aid Office)
- Disciplinary information, Residential Life housing information, etc. (Dean of Students)
To permit the release of information by an office, follow these steps:
- Go to your Eagle Online account
- Select the Personal Information tab
- Select the box beside the name of the appropriate office(s), then scroll down the page and type in the name and relationship of the individual or organization to whom your information may be released
- Be sure to select “Submit” at the bottom of the page
This information can be updated in your Eagle Online account at any time.
- Where to Obtain Additional Info
If you have questions concerning FERPA and your Education Records or need additional information contact:
Office of the Registrar
221 Quadrangle Drive
Cookeville, TN 38505
- The Right to File a Complaint
You have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Tennessee Tech to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920
Individuals who use TDD may use the Federal Relay Service.
Tennessee Tech University conforms to fair information practices. We must annually notify students about their rights under FERPA. The annual notification includes the procedure for a student to follow who believes his or her rights under FERPA have been violated. In addition to, or in place of, the University’s grievance procedure, students have a right to file a complaint directly to the Department of Education. Students are informed of their rights to privacy via the University's Office of the Registrar’s website. For additional information concerning school officials’ access to Education Records at Tennessee Tech, see Tennessee Tech Policy 265 Confidentiality of Student Records and FERPA Compliance, which can be accessed through Tennessee Tech’s Policy Central page.
FERPA for Parents
Per FERPA, the education record belongs to the student. Parents only have rights to access to records granted by the student. This means that parents cannot request grades, the academic transcript, or a class schedule unless the student signs a release indicating that they want to release the information.
For more detailed information on how FERPA applies to your student and you, continue by clicking the links below.
- What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment) is a Federal law that helps protect the privacy of student education records. Under FERPA, education records are those: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
The Act provides students the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.
- When Do Students' FERPA Rights Begin?
According to the law, a person becomes a student for purposes of FERPA when they are in attendance" at an institution. At Tennessee Tech, we define a student as someone currently or previously enrolled in any academic offering of the University. This policy does not apply to Records until the first day of class of the Student’s first semester of attendance or to Records specifically exempted by 34 Code of Federal Regulations 99.3, as may be amended from time to time. This does not include prospective students or applicants to any academic program of the University.
- What Information May Parents Have Access To?
The student has the right to withhold any student information that they wish to withhold from any third party. A third party is anyone inside or outside of the University who does not have an “educational need to know” the information in the student record as a necessary part of their job. Under FERPA, parents are third parties, with no rights to the record, although FERPA does include a provision that a parent could access the record if the student is listed as a dependent on their most recent federal income tax form. It is viewed as a matter of discretion as to whether or not the institution incorporates this provision into its policies.
- Parental Rights According to FERPA
When a student turns 18 years old or enters Tennessee Tech, regardless of his or her age, all rights afforded to parents under FERPA transfer to the student, and the student’s written consent is required for disclosure of his or her education records.
However, FERPA provides ways in which a school may—but is not required-to share information from an eligible student's education records with parents, without the student's consent. For example:
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if the student is claimed as a dependent for tax purposes.
- Schools may disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
- Schools may inform parents if the student is under age 21 and has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- A school official may generally share with a parent information that is based on that official's personal knowledge or observation of the student.
- What about Crisis or Emergency Situations?
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an educational institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
- What are Students' Rights Under FERPA?
FERPA gives students four basic rights with respect to their education record:
- The right to control disclosure of their education record
- The right to review their education record
- The right to request amendment of inaccurate or misleading portions of their education record
- The right to file a complaint regarding non-compliance of FERPA with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education
In summary, the education record belongs to the student. Parents only have rights to access to records granted by the student. This means that parents cannot request grades, the academic transcript, or a class schedule unless the student signs a release indicating that they want to release the information.
- Third Party Access
Students have the ability to give access to a third party. Students may grant access to their student record in one or more of the following areas: Records, Student Financial Account, Student Affairs and Financial Aid. Students can grant access to a third party by logging into their Eagle Online Account. The request to share Information Release electronic form is listed under personal Information.
- Questions or Concerns?
If you have questions concerning FERPA and your education records, or need additional information, we invite you to contact the Office of the Registrar at:
Office of the Registrar
221 Quadrangle Drive
Cookeville, TN 38505