5.2.3 Student Records Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

A. Purpose

The he Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. Section 1232g and the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code Section 552.001 et seq. are respectively a federal and state law that provide for the review and disclosure of student educational records. UTS 183 is the system-wide policy of the University of Texas System regarding the maintenance of records subject to FERPA.

The purpose of this policy is to inform individuals of their rights under FERPA and to outline compliance by The University of Texas at Tyler with respect to FERPA and UTS 183; see policy 2.1.1 Public Records for information about the Texas Public Information Act.

This policy which is included in the University Handbook of Operating Procedures and the Catalog. The Catalog is available at http://www.uttyler.edu/catalog/. 

B. Persons Affected

This policy applies to students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at Tyler.

C. Definitions

  1. Educational Records: Per UTS 183, as those records directly related to a Student and maintained by a UT System institution or party acting for the institution, as well as Personally Identifiable Information about a Student that is derived from an Education Record.
  2. Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA): 20 U.S.C. 1232g and 34 CFR Part 99.
  3. Personally Identifiable Information: Per UTS 183, information derived from an Education Record that can be used alone or in combination with other information known to a requestor or the university community, to identify a student. It includes, but is not limited to: the student’s name; the name of the student’s parent or other family members; the mailing or email address of the student or student’s family; a personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record.
  4. Student: PER UTS 183, any individual who is or was enrolled at a UT System institution and any other individual who is included within a UT System’s institution’s FERPA policy’s definition of a student.
  5. University Official: PER UTS 183, an individual or entity identified by the University as requiring access to an Education Records in order to fulfill his or her professional duties.

D. Policy and Procedures

I. Access and Release of Personally Identifiable Information

The University will not permit access to or the release of personally identifiable information contained in student education records without the written consent of the student to any party, except as follows:

  1. to appropriate university officials who require access to educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties;
  2. to officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, upon request of these officials, and upon the condition that the student be notified and receive a copy of the record if desired;
  3. to federal, state, or local officials or agencies authorized by law;
  4. in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid;
  5. to accrediting organizations or organizations conducting educational studies, provided that these organizations do not release personally identifiable data and destroy such data when it is no longer needed for the purpose it was obtained;
  6. to the parents of a dependent student as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance;
  7. in compliance with a judicial order or subpoena, provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance unless such subpoena specifically directs the institution not to disclose the existence of a subpoena;
  8. in an emergency situation if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the students or other persons; or
  9. to an alleged victim of any crime of violence, the results of the alleged perpetrator’s disciplinary proceeding may be released; or
  10. research papers and theses authored by the student will be available to interested members of the public.

The University will release information in student education records to appropriate University officials as indicated in (1) above when such records are needed by administrators, faculty, or staff in furtherance of the educational or business purposes of the student or University.

A record of requests for disclosure and such disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records shall be maintained by the Office of the Registrar  for each student and will also be made available for inspection pursuant to this policy. If the institution discovers that a third party who has received student records from the institution has released or failed to destroy such records in violation of this policy, it will prohibit access to educational records for five (5) years.

Respective records no longer subject to audit nor presently under request for access may be purged according to regular schedules.

II. Directory Information

At its discretion, the University may release Directory Information which shall include: 

  1. name, address, telephone number
  2. major field of study at UT Tyler
  3. dates of attendance
  4. most recent previous educational institutional attended
  5. classification
  6. degrees, certificates and awards received
  7. date of graduation
  8. email address
  9. photographs
  10. participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  11. weight and height of members of athletic teams
  12. enrollment status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time)

Students may have all Directory Information withheld by notifying the Registrar in writing during the first 12 days of class of a fall or spring semester or the first 4 class days of a summer semester. Requests for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution until the student notifies the Registrar in writing that Directory Information may be released.

Students may have all Directory Information withheld by notifying the Enrollment Services Center  in writing by the Census Date of each semester. If the student restricts the release of Directory Information, a notation is placed in the student record system and no information can be released on that student. Request for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution until the student notifies the Enrollment Services Center in writing that Directory Information may be released.

All other information may not be released without written consent of the student. Grades, student identification numbers, ethnic background, and student schedules may not be released to anyone other than the student.

III. Access to File

Upon written request, the University shall provide a student with access to his or her educational records. The Vice President for Business Affairs has been designated by the institution as the custodian of records and as such to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions files, academic files, and financial files. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Vice President for Business Affairs listing the item or items of interest. Education records covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request.

Educational records do not include: 

  1. financial records of the student’s parents or guardian;
  2. confidential letters of recommendation which were placed in the educational records of a student prior to January 1, 1975;
  3. records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are kept in sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a temporary substitute for the maker;
  4. records of law enforcement units;
  5. employment records related exclusively to an individual’s employment capacity;
  6. medical and psychological records;
  7. thesis or research paper; or
  8. records that only contain information about an individual after the individual is no longer a student at the institution.

IV. Challenge to Record

Students may challenge the accuracy of their educational records. Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy may discuss their problems informally with the Registrar. If agreement is reached with respect to the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and they will be informed by the Registrar of their right to a formal hearing.

Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Registrar who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place and the time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student’s expense. The hearing officer that will adjudicate such challenges will be appointed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Decisions of the hearing officer will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of the written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned.

The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing officer, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing office, or both. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may appeal in writing to the President of the institution.

V. Copies

Students may have copies of their educational records and this policy. These copies will be made at the student’s expense at rates authorized in the Texas Public Information Act, except for transcripts and other records which may be subject to specific fees pursuant to other legislative enactments. Official copies of academic records or transcripts will not be released for students who have a delinquent financial obligation or a valid “hold” at UT Tyler.

VI. Complaints

Complaints regarding alleged failures to comply with the provisions of FERPA may be submitted in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U. S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 202024605.

E. Responsibilities

The Vice President for Operations and Strategic Initiatives is responsible for this policy.

F. Review

This policy and this policy shall be reviewed every five years or sooner if necessary by the following stakeholders:

Vice President for Operations and Strategic Initiatives

Registrar

Vice President for Student Success

Council of Academic Deans

Faculty Senate President

University Staff Advisory Council Chair

Student Government Association President

ORIGINALLY APPROVED: 12/01/2001 
AMENDED: 11/02/2012

AMENDED: 04/2019