FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act)
Independence Community College is legally and ethically obligated to protect the confidentiality of students’ records.
What exactly is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 or FERPA, is a federal law designed to protect the confidentiality of student records maintained by colleges and universities, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
FERPA applies to both K-12 and higher education; however, the law ascribes rights to the student at the higher education level rather than to the parents. FERPA rights are granted to parents until the student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending an institution of higher education regardless of age. We have many students enrolled at our institution who are under the age of 18. These students, who are typically classified as high school specials, concurrent, or dual enrolled students, are protected under FERPA. FERPA is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Failure to comply with FERPA is a violation of federal law with the potential for loss of federal funding for ICC.
What rights are given to students under FERPA:
FERPA is a federal law that grants multiple rights to students, including the right to:
- Review and inspect their education records
- Seek amendment to their education records
- Consent to the disclosure of education records
- Annual notification of their rights under FERPA
- File a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office in Washington, D.C.
Student Access to Education Records
Every student has the right to inspect and review their education records within forty-five (45) days of the day ICC receives a written request for access, any time after graduation. In addition, every student has the right to request, in writing, the amendment of their education record(s) if they believe them to be inaccurate.
Some important definitions:
Student – any person who is attending or has attended ICC and for whom ICC maintains a record.
Education Record – any record that is related to the student and maintained by ICC. It may contain both directory information and non-directory information. This includes, but is not limited to, data in the Student Information System, the AS400, email, files maintained in shared areas, photographs, and videos. Items not considered educational records include but are not limited to: Personal notes not shared with or accessible to others, and observations or personal knowledge, i.e., overhearing a student making a threat, or a student’s demeanor or mood.
Directory Information – information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This information is usually “public information” or information someone could find easily by looking in a phone book or other source of public information. Students at ICC have the right to instruct ICC not to disclose even this basic information. Information contained in this definition include:
- Awards and honors (Dean’s List)
- Campus e-mail addresses
- Class standing (e.g. sophomore)
- College of enrollment
- Current enrollment
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
- Full- or part-time status, withdrawn
- Home telephone number
- Local address
- Local telephone number
- Major field(s) of study
- Permanent address
- Picture of student
- Student Class Schedules
ICC designates the following categories of student information as directory information and routinely releases the applicable information:
- Phone Number
- Email Address (ICC)
- Dates of Attendance
- Place of Birth
- Degrees and Awards
- Honor Rolls
- Cumulative Hours
- Most Recent Institution Attended
- Graduation Lists
- Height & Weight of Athletes
- Participation in Officially Recognized Sports, Activities, and Organizations, including Photographs
The College may, but is not required to disclose this information, according to the guidelines contained in FERPA. The College’s Registrar and its Administration will take into account the necessary precautions to protect the privacy of current and former students prior to disclosing any directory information.
Disclosure – non-directory or private information can only be disclosed if the student has given written permission before releasing the information. Exceptions include, but are not limited to:
- Subpoena or court order
- School official with legitimate educational interest
- Health or safety emergency
- School Official – anyone employed by ICC in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, support staff, or student position.
- Any branch of the United States Armed Forces
Students currently enrolled at ICC may withhold disclosure of directory information. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received on a semester basis at:
Office of the Registrar
Independence Community College
P.O. Box 708
Independence, KS 67301
ICC has several forms to facilitate the release of student information with student consent:
- Transcript Request – Available on the website and in Academic Affairs. This form must be completed and submitted to the Registrar’s Office. Used for the release of official grades.
- Verification of Education – Available on the website and in Academic Affairs. This form must be completed and submitted to the Registrar’s Office. Used for release of number of hours enrolled during a certain semester and confirmation of full or part-time student status.
- Authorization for Release of FERPA Protected Student Information – Available on the website and in Admissions. This form must be completed, witnessed by an ICC staff member, and submitted to Admissions. Please be aware though that the student may choose what type(s) of information are authorized for the release of and to whom.
Federal and State Data Collection and Use
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expanded the circumstances under which educational records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including Social Security Numbers, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without student consent.
The U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to individual students records and PII without student consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.
In addition, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when ICC objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.
Lastly State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems. This information is commonly used as part of the Kansas Higher Education Data System (KHEDS).
Independence Community College encourages its students to contact the Registrar, firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-332-5430, with any questions regarding FERPA or the disclosure of Directory Information.
Under FERPA, students have the right to contact the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605, with a complaint about the ICC's compliance with FERPA.
Complete regulations and full definitions of terminology are available at the Department of Education website.
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