Family Education Rights & Privacy Act

  • What is FERPA?

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records

    Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

  • What are educational records?

    Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.

    Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:

    • Sole possession records - Records/notes that are kept in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
    • Law Enforcement Unit Records - Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose and are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction;
    • Employment records - Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational institution, when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual’s employment;
    • Medical treatment records - Records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists;
    • Post-attendance records - Records created or received by an educational institution after the individual is no longer a student (alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.
  • Access to student educational records

    According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written/electronic consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written/electronic consent of the student are:

    • birth date
    • religious affiliation
    • citizenship
    • disciplinary status
    • ethnicity
    • gender
    • grade point average (GPA)
    • marital status
    • Social Security number
    • grades/exam scores
    • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)
    • progress reports

    The college will not release personally identifiable information from a student’s education record without the student’s prior written/electronic consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter’s education records unless the student has provided written/electronic authorization permitting the parents’ access.

    Exceptions are noted in the college’s policy concerning the records access and privacy rights of students and parents and include: access by "college officials" who the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest," access by school officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll, and access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

    At MCC these terms are defined below:

    "College official" is any person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement personnel; a person or company with whom the college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official college committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her task.

    A "college official" has a "legitimate educational interest" whenever he or she is performing a task that is specified in his or her position or description or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student’s education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family (such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid), or disclosing information in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena.
    (NOTE: At MCC subpoenas for student records are reviewed by the Office of Records and Registration to determine an appropriate response.)

    At MCC, access to a student’s record will be provided to the following individuals/organizations or in the following circumstances without prior consent from the student, and no record thereof will be maintained.

    1. College/school officials of McLennan Community College who have authorized college-related interest in the student’s record or officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. The student is entitled to a copy of the record forwarded to the other institution(s) if they so desire. A school official is a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement personnel); a person or company with whom the college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
    2. Individuals needing the information in connection with a student’s application for receipt of financial aid.
    3. State or local officials to which educational data must be reported.
    4. Legitimate organizations (American College Testing, College Board, Education Testing Service) developing, validating or administering predictive tests or student-aid programs. Such data is not to be released in any identifiable form and will be destroyed by the organization after the research has been complete.
    5. Accrediting agencies.
    6. Parents of a dependent student as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
    7. In compliance with judicial order pursuant to any lawfully issued subpoena.
    8. Representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, Secretary of Education, U.S. Attorney General, administrative heads of educational agencies, or state educational authorities.
    9. Emergency situations when the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of some person.

    All other individuals, agencies or organizations that request or obtain access to a student’s records must have prior written/electronic consent of the student involved.

  • Student’s right to inspect, review and/or correct his/her records

    In accordance with FERPA, any student having attended MCC has the right to inspect, review and obtain copies of any and all official records, files and data directly related to herself/himself. Access to the student’s records may be obtained in the following manner:

    1. Students may make requests by completing the "Request to Inspect and Review Education Records" form and submitting the form to Highlander Central.
    2. The appropriate officer of the college will make the designated records available within a reasonable period of time, but in no case more than 45 days after the request.
    3. Copies of records will be provided at the current prevailing cost.
    4. Exceptions:
      1. Financial records of the parents of the student or any information contained therein.
      2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation, which were placed in the education records prior to January 1, 1975, if such letters or statements are not used for purposes other than those for which they were specifically intended.
      3. If the student signs a waiver of his/her right of access to the following information:
        1. Confidential recommendations for admission
        2. Confidential recommendations for employment
        3. Confidential recommendations for honor recognitions
        Provided, however, that the student, upon request, be notified of the names of all persons making confidential recommendations and such recommendations be used solely for the purpose for which they were specifically intended.
      4. Records of a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or para-professional, provided the records are created and used only in connection with treatment of the student and such records are available only to those providing such treatment.
      5. Education records containing information about more than one student; however, in such cases the institution will permit access to the part of the record that pertains only to the inquiring student.

    Any student having attended MCC will have an opportunity to challenge and have corrected inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate data.

    1. Informal Review
      Make a request in person or in writing at Highlander Central. The student may be required to complete a "Request to Inspect and Review Education Records" form.
    2. Formal Review
      If the information review does not clarify the question of accuracy of recordkeeping, the student may request a formal review. The Vice President, Student Success, will chair and appoint a committee to hear challenges concerning student records.

    Areas in Which Student Records Are Maintained

    1. Academic Records
      1. Offices of Student Admissions, Highlander Central and Student Records
      2. Programs, Departments, Faculty and Administrative Offices
    2. Student Services Records
      1. Student Development
      2. Student Support Services
    3. Financial Records
      1. Business Office
      2. Office of Financial Aid

    The Vice President, Student Success, is responsible for the supervision of student records and the implementation of the policy.

  • What is directory or public information?

    This is information that may be released to the general public without the written/electronic consent of the student. The following are included as directory information:

    1. Name
    2. Student’s address
    3. Parents’ names and addresses
    4. Telephone number
    5. Major Field of study
    6. Classification
    7. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
    8. Weight and height of members of athletic teams
    9. Dates of attendance
    10. Degrees, awards and date(s) received
    11. All previous educational agencies or institutions attended
    12. Photographs that may be used in MCC publications, videos, advertisements or Internet sites.
    13. Honors
    14. E-mail address
    15. Enrollment status (full time or part time)
  • Restricting release of directory information

    According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled.

    At MCC, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Request to Withhold Directory or Public Information form, also available at Highlander Central. The completed form must be submitted in person during the first 12 class days of a fall or spring semester or the first four class days of a summer term, or the first two class days of minimester term to Highlander Central in the Enrollment Services Center and must be accompanied by a photo I.D.

    Students who request that the college withhold directory information should be aware that nondisclosure stipulations stay in effect until removed by the student. Students who choose not to release directory information will not be included in the public release of the Honors List, and directory information will not be released to potential employers and other interested parties.

  • Annual notification to students

    Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, MCC annually notifies students of the rights accorded them by FERPA.

    MCC students are notified of their FERPA rights in the Highlander Guide

  • Questions

    Questions regarding this policy may be directed to the Office of Student Records located in the Enrollment Services Center, 254-299-8507.

  • Filing a complaint

    Complaints concerning failure to comply with FERPA may be made in writing to:

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Ave. SW
    Washington, D.C. 20202-4605

    The Family Policy Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.