Q. What is considered directory information?
A. Directory information means information contained in an educational record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information may include, but is not limited to, the student’s name, address, telephone number, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time), dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities or sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards and the most recent educational agency or institution attended. An institution is entitled to determine what directory information it will release and what directory information it will not release according to its own policies. A student may request, in writing, that the institution withhold all of their directory information.
Q. When is someone considered “a student” at MCC?
A. Student, except as otherwise specifically provided by applicable statute or regulation, means any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains educational records.
As soon as someone registers for a class at MCC, they are considered a student.
For dual enrollment students: For dual enrollment students, the students’ postsecondary records must be treated by MCC like any other MCC student, and his/her records may only be provided to parents as allowed by the FERPA guidelines. Educational records relating solely to the students’ K-12 activities can be released to parents without the student’s consent (as long as the student is 17 years of age or younger).
According to the Department of Education, “If a student is attending a postsecondary institution—at any age—the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information relating to that student. If the student is under 18 years of age, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school.” All such requests shall be directed to the participating high school not the college.
Q. Can a student give verbal permission for a parent to access their records?
A. No, in order for parents to have access to a student’s records or perform any transactions on a student’s behalf, a signed release form (Authorization to Release Student Information) must be on file with the College or the student must qualify as a dependent under the guidelines of 34 C.F.R. §99.31 and a permission note must added to the student’s electronic record in MCC’s database.
Q. What information can be given to a person who says he/she is a parent of a student? What proof or ID would a parent need to present?
A. Unless the student has submitted the Authorization to Release Student Information form giving written permission for his/her parent to access his/her educational records or they meet the requirements of 34 C.F.R. §99.31, the College cannot release non-directory information to that individual. Once an Authorization to Release Student Information form has been submitted and notated in the system, the parent would need to present a photo ID if they request information in person.
Q. How do faculty know who has signed a waiver?
A. Faculty may view the information on the CRI screen in Colleague. If they do not have access to it, they may contact an academic associate or Student Services for assistance. Faculty, or other College employees, should never provide protected information to anyone other than the student without first verifying that a release is on file and that the person requesting the information is named or referenced by class (parents, doctors, social workers, attorneys, etc) in the release.
Q. Are there separate waivers for giving verbal and written information?
A. No, MCC utilizes the Authorization to Release Student Information form for both verbal and written information.
Q. What is MCC’s policy in releasing protected information to students or authorized individuals?
For phone inquiries:
For all inquiries from students or authorized individuals (where a release of information has been noted in CRI), make sure that you ask for the student’s Date of Birth and the last four of their SSN or their student id. We need to make sure that we confirm the caller’s identify before we release any protected information.
If someone other than the student calls in, please note the name of the caller (authorized individual) and what was verified in STRK.
For email inquiries:
According to MCC’s email policy, all email communications must be through a MCC email account. If you are communicating with a student, the student must communicate with MCC using his/her MCC email account. Students who use their MCC email account have already confirmed and validated their identity since they must have their username and password to access it and may inquiry about their record via email.
Please see College use of Student Email for more information, http://www.mccneb.edu/studentemail/default.asp
Since authorized individuals must confirm their identify by providing the student’s Date of Birth and the last four of their SSN or their student id, we ask that you follow up with a phone call instead of discussing protected information via email. We do not want to possibly compromise a student’s SSN by asking for it in an email. Once this is done, please note the name of the authorized individual and the nature of the call in STRK.
If a student is asking for protected information (unofficial transcript, schedule, etc.), please make sure he/she presents a photo ID and confirms his/her identity. If an authorized individual is asking for a student’s information, make sure to confirm with that person the student’s Date of Birth and the last four of their SSN or their student ID.
If someone other than the student asks for protected information, please note the name of the authorized individual and what was verified in STRK.
For all inquiries, if the authorized person does not know the last four of the SSN of the student, then you may ask other questions (such as the student’s class schedule or their home address) that may confirm that he/she does have a legitimate right to the student’s record.
Q. What is the policy for leaving graded papers for students to pick up? Is it OK if the papers are in sealed envelopes with the name on the outside? How does a faculty receptionist know who is taking the paper?
A. Graded papers should not be left unattended as the student’s rights may be violated if someone picked up the wrong envelope and viewed its contents.
Q. What is the policy for students correcting each other’s work in class—exchanging papers and grading them?
A. Students are allowed to grade each other’s work in class.
Q. Is it a violation of FERPA to conduct college business with a student via their personal email account (i.e. email@example.com)?
A. It depends. There is no guarantee of confidentiality when sending an e-mail to a student’s personal email account. All currently enrolled, credit students have a college provided email account which must be used by staff and faculty when conducting college business via email. Exceptions may be granted by the Director, IT Network Services or the Director, Manager of Information Services upon written request and authorization from the student and the appropriate College official. The written request and authorization must be placed and maintained in the student’s official College file in the Department of Records.
Q. Can I email grades to my students?
A. It depends. According to MCC’s FERPA policy, email is an acceptable method of notifying a student of his or her grade but only if the institutional email account is used to send and receive the grade. For example, an instructor needs to use his/her MCC email address to send the grade to the student at the student’s MCC email address.
Q. Can I give a grade over the phone?
A. It is not advisable to give a grade over the phone unless you can be absolutely be sure that it is indeed the student or another authorized recipient on the other end of the line.
Q. Does MCC have to share information with a third party?
A. It depends. An institution is required to release protected educational information to certain third parties in certain prescribed circumstances pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §99.31.
Q. Who has access to a student’s academic records?
A. The conditions under which prior consent is not required to disclose protected educational information are set forth in 34 C.F.R. §99.31.
Q. What information may I release in crisis or emergency?
A. If the situation is imminent and poses a threat to the safety and health of the public, the MCC community or to the student, FERPA allows MCC officials to release protected educational information to appropriate individuals based on the circumstances (such as law enforcement officials, medically trained personnel and public health officials).
Q. I’m a staff/faculty member and have been asked to do a welcome for a student success conference. I would like to mention a successful former student in my presentation. Do I need to have his/her permission first?
A. It depends. In order to protect a student’s FERPA rights, you would need to get his/her written permission if your presentation mentions any non-directory information related to that student, such as GPA or academic history.
Q. An employee from another institution calls asking about his/her daughter who is enrolled at MCC. Can we release any information to him/her?
A. No, the student’s educational rights must still be protected. We may release directory information to the parent; otherwise, the student needs to submit a written authorization to release non-directory information to that parent.
Q. A law enforcement officer is looking for a student to serve a warrant and is asking for the student’s class schedule. Can I provide it to him/her?
A. No, college policy is that all such requests are to be immediately directed to the Chief or Deputy Chief of the College Police Department. According to FERPA, non-directory information can only be provided to a law enforcement officer if they present a lawfully issued subpoena or court order. Otherwise, he/she cannot have access to a student’s educational records. Records maintained by the College’s Police Department are not a part of a student’s educational record and may be shared without prior authorization.
Q. Does FERPA apply if a student is deceased?
A. No, a student’s rights under FERPA cease once a student is deceased. Each institution may implement its own policy regarding the release of protected information regarding a deceased student. Individuals named by the court as executor, executrix, personal representative or who have been granted similar standing in relation to the decedent’s estate may have the same access to the deceased student’s protected educational information as the student would have had.
Q. What are the consequences for violating FERPA?
A. An individual who believes that their rights under FERPA have been violated may file a complaint with the United States Department of Education.