Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Bucks County Community College accords all the rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 to its students. No one outside the College shall have access to, nor will the College disclose any information from student's education records without the written consent of the students except to personnel within the College, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation functions, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons, and to other individuals and agencies permitted under the Act.

Within Bucks County Community College, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the student's educational interest are allowed access to student's education records. These members include personnel in all administrative offices and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.

At its discretion, the College may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, previous educational agency or institution(s) attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and heights of members of athletic teams. Students may withhold Directory Information by notifying the Director of Records in writing within three weeks after the first day of classes for the semester in which the withholding of Directory Information is to take effect. Student's requests for non-disclosure will be honored until the student requests its removal.

The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have hearings if the outcomes of the challenges are unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels to be unacceptable. The law also provides students with the right to inspect and review the records of disclosure of information from their education records. The types of education records and the custodian of each type of education record are listed in appendix A to this policy. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the custodian of each type of record listing the item or items of interest.

Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the written request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions: a copy of the academic record if the student has an outstanding financial obligation to the College or a transcript of an original or source document that exists elsewhere. These copies would be made at the student's expense at prevailing rates, which are listed in appendix B to this policy. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record, records of the law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of student's choosing.

Students MAY NOT inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment, or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the College will permit access ONLY to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The College is NOT required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.

Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss their concerns informally with the custodians of the records in question. If the custodians of the records in question are in agreement with the student's requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the students will be notified, in writing, within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended; and they will be informed by the custodians of the records in question of their right to formal hearings. Student's requests for formal hearings must be made in writing to the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place, and 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 an attorney, at the student's expense.

The hearing panels which will adjudicate such challenges will be composed of the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, the Dean of Administration, and the Director of Student Life Programs. If members of the hearing panels have direct interests in the outcome of the hearings, the President of Bucks County Community College will replace these members of the hearing panels with individuals who do not have direct interests in the outcome of the hearings.

Decisions of the hearing panels will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearings, and will consist of 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 decisions of the hearing panels, if the decisions are in favor of the students. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the students, the students may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. 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 request in writing assistance from the President of the College. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged, may file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605 concerning the alleged failures of Bucks County Community College to comply with the Act.

Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and the Colleges policy warrant.

Last revised and updated August, 2003.

Appendix A

Types and Custodians of Education Records
Academic and Admissions Director of Records
Counseling Dean for Student Services
Disciplinary Director of Student Life
Financial Accounts of Students Dean of Administration
Financial Aid Director of Financial Aid
Testing Director of Testing Services
Veterans Director of Admissions

Appendix B

Fee Schedule for Copies of Education Records

Ten cents ($.10) per page for those records on paper or computer generated

Fifteen cents ($.15) per page for those records on microfilm or optical disc

Two dollars ($2.00) per copy for official transcripts.