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FERPA

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s education records. In compliance with FERPA, MSPP does not disclose personally identifiable information contained in student education records, except as authorized by law.

Information about students’ rights under FERPA and MSPP’s implementation of FERPA is set forth below.

Student rights under FERPA

In general, a student has the right to:

  • inspect his or her education records;
  • require that MSPP obtain his or her prior written consent before releasing personally identifiable information from education records;
  • request that corrections be made to education records if the student believes the records are inaccurate or misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.

Definitions

A student is defined as one who is, or has been, officially registered, and who attends, or has attended, classes at MSPP.

With certain exceptions, education records are records relating to a student that are maintained by MSPP.

Personally identifiable information includes a student’s name, the address of the student, or other information that would allow a student to be identified.

Directory information consists of the following items of information:

  • Academic program (degree, major)
  • Dates of attendance, full-time/part-time status
  • Degrees, honors, awards received
  • Email directory lookup
  • Local address and phone number

Privacy preferences

Unless restricted, MSPP may disclose any of the items of Directory Information without a student’s consent. Students may restrict the disclosure of any item of Directory Information by submitting written notification to the Registrar’s Office. The right to restrict disclosure of Directory Information does not include the right to remain anonymous in class and may not be used to impede classroom communication. Student’s information will be printed in the commencement program unless the Registrar’s Office is notified prior to publication.

Please Note: After graduation, the Office of the Registrar will not confirm degrees earned to prospective employers or any other party without the student's permission.

Inspection of educational records

To inspect education records, a student should submit a written request identifying the records to be inspected to the Registrar.

Written requests to access records will receive a response within a reasonable time, but not more than forty-five days after submission. An MSPP official will arrange for access and will notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. MSPP may charge a fee for a copy of the education records, if a copy is requested.

Information which a student does not have the right to inspect

A student does not have a right under FERPA to inspect information that is not an education record, such as:

  • Employment records (provided that employment is unrelated to student status);
  • Records containing information about the individual that were created or received after he or she is no longer a student and that are not directly related to the student’s attendance at MSPP;
  • Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel that are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record; and

In addition, a student does not have the right to access certain education records, such as:

  • Confidential letters of recommendation, if the student has waived his or her right of access in writing;
  • Admissions records for a student who does not officially attend the program of admission. If the student completed a course at MSPP but never officially attended as a degree candidate in the program of admission, then the student has FERPA rights with respect to that course but does not have rights with respect to the admissions records for that program;
  • Records of a student that contain information on other students. The student may inspect, review, or be informed of only the specific information about that student.

Authorizing another person to inspect or receive copies of your records

A current or former student who wishes to permit another person to inspect or receive copies of the student's education records must provide a signed and dated written consent which must:

  • Specify the records that may be disclosed;
  • State the purpose of the disclosure;
  • Identify the person or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.

When disclosure is permitted without prior consent of the student

In general, MSPP may not disclose personal information from a student's education records without the student's prior consent. However, MSPP, in compliance with the law, may disclose personal information without the student's prior consent under these conditions:

  1. To MSPP officials, staff, and others engaged in activities on behalf of MSPP with a legitimate educational interest
    MSPP discloses information to MSPP officials, staff, and others whom MSPP has determined to have a legitimate educational interest. An individual has a legitimate educational interest if the individual needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities to MSPP. Such individuals include officers of MSPP, faculty, administrative staff, law enforcement and medical and legal personnel, and may include contractors, consultants and professionals engaged by MSPP where disclosure of the information is necessary for such individuals to fulfill their duties and responsibilities to MSPP. In addition, these individuals may include MSPP students, persons from outside MSPP, and volunteers, who are requested to serve on an authorized committee or board of MSPP (such as a disciplinary committee or the Board of Trustees) or to otherwise perform authorized tasks for MSPP.
  2. The information has been designated as Directory information including:
    • Academic program (degree, major, minor)
    • Dates of attendance, Full time / part-time status
    • Degrees, honors, and awards received
    • Email directory lookup
    • Local address
  3. In health or safety emergency situations
    In the case of an emergency, MSPP discloses information from education records to the appropriate parties, including parents, if MSPP deems that knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health, safety, or well-being of the student or other individuals. Such disclosure may include any disciplinary action previously taken against the student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety and well-being of that student, other students, or members of the MSPP community.
  4. In compliance with a subpoena
    MSPP will make a reasonable effort to notify the student of the subpoena before complying. However, in the case of a subpoena issued for law enforcement purposes or an ex parte order under the USA Patriot Act, MSPP is not required to notify the student of the existence or the contents of the subpoena, or of the information furnished in response to the subpoena, if the Court or other issuing agency has ordered that such information not be disclosed.
  5. The information is a record of a campus disciplinary proceeding
    Federal law requires MSPP to disclose to both the accuser and the accused student the outcome of all student disciplinary proceedings that involve a charge of sexual assault. In addition, MSPP may disclose the final results of student disciplinary proceedings regarding a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense in which a student has been found to have committed a violation of MSPP’s policies. Final results include name of the offender, violation, and any sanction imposed. MSPP can also inform parents about violations of MSPP's drug and alcohol policy by a student under the age of 21.
  6. To officials of other institutions or organizations
    • To which the student seeks or intends to transfer or in which the student is already enrolled, provided the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. MSPP has a policy of forwarding records to requesting institutions in these circumstances;
    • In connection with the student's placement or participation in internships, practica, affiliations or other programs related to the student's courses or programs at MSPP;
    • To which a student has applied for or from which he/she has received financial aid to support the student's education, in cases where the information is related to (1) determining the eligibility for, amount of, or conditions of the aid, or (2) enforcing the terms and conditions of the aid.
    In cases where MSPP has previously transmitted such information to another institution or organization in which the student has enrolled, has been placed, or has sought financial aid, MSPP may send corrected records if there are changes to the information previously sent.
  7. To authorized representatives of certain government offices
    MSPP will release information to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General's Office, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Education, and state and local educational authorities in connection with an audit or an evaluation of federal or state supported programs and to assure the enforcement of or compliance with federal or state legal requirements related to these programs.
  8. In compliance with the Solomon Amendment
    MSPP will release student information for the purposes of military recruiting to the Department of Defense. The information released is limited to student name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, levels of education and degrees received, prior military experience, and the most recent educational institution attended unless restricted.
  9. In response to complaints and legal actions involving the student and MSPP
    If a student initiates legal action or brings complaints against MSPP, MSPP may disclose education records relevant to the response to the complaint without a court order or subpoena. In addition, in the event that MSPP initiates legal action against a student, MSPP may disclose education records relevant to the action without a court order or subpoena.
  10. To authorized representatives of the state and local government
    MSPP may disclose information to these authorized representatives if disclosure is allowed pursuant to a state statute concerning the juvenile justice system.
  11. To accredited organizations
    MSPP may release information to organizations that accredit colleges and universities for the purpose of assisting their accrediting functions.
  12. To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the University
    MSPP may disclose information to organizations seeking to improve education for or on behalf of MSPP (e.g. developing predictive tests or administering student aid programs).
  13. In connection with notifications received under a state community notification program
    MSPP will disclose information in connection with notifications received under a state community notification program about a student who is required to register as a sex offender.
  14. To parties who provided or created a record
    MSPP may send education records back to the creator or sender of such records for confirmation of the authenticity of the record (e.g. of a transcript or letter).
  15. After removal of all personally identifiable information
    If all personally identifiable information has been removed from a record and MSPP has made a reasonable determination that a student’s identity is not personally identifiable, MSPP may release information concerning a student.

Limitations on redisclosures

Under FERPA, information disclosed by the University may be subject to restrictions against redisclosure.

Amending educational records

Students have the right to have their education records maintained accurately and may request amendment of records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. If the normal channels for amending education records within MSPP do not result in the desired corrections, students should submit a letter to the Registrar requesting that their education records be amended The Registrar will inform the student of MSPP's decision concerning the requested amendment within forty-five (45) days from the date of receipt of the student’s request.

If MSPP decides not to amend the record as requested, it will

  1. inform the student of the decision,
  2. advise the student of his or her right to a hearing to challenge the content of the records on the grounds that the information contained in the record is
    1. inaccurate or misleading (i.e., that the information in the records has been recorded incorrectly) or
    2. violates the student's rights under FERPA and
  3. explain the procedures to requests such a hearing. If, after the hearing, MSPP decides that the information contained in the record is not inaccurate or misleading, it will inform the student of the right to place a statement in the record commenting on the contested information or stating why the student disagrees with MSPP’s decision.

Note: The process of amending records or requesting hearings regards only information that has been recorded inaccurately or incorrectly or that violates the student's rights under FERPA. It is not a process to appeal grades, disciplinary decisions, or other MSPP decisions with which the student disagrees but which have been recorded accurately. Normal review and appeal channels must be utilized where the dispute is with the decision itself and not with the accuracy with which the decision or information has been recorded.

Complaint procedure

A student has the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by MSPP to comply with the requirements of FERPA. A complaint must be submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the student knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. The complaint must contain specific factual allegations giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred, and it should be forwarded to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
UD Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S. W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605

Questions

Questions about MSPP's policies and practices or about specific educational records should be addressed to:

Office of the Registrar, MSPP
One Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459

Updated 2/5/13

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