Student Development Office
Policy on Access to and Release of Student Information
(March 1993) Revision
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that provides that every educational institution receiving federal funds shall maintain the confidentiality of its student records. Certain items of information about individual students are fundamental to the educational process and must be recorded. Western Illinois University is committed to protecting to the maximum extent possible the right of privacy of all individuals about whom it holds information, records, and files. No one outside the institution shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose any information from, students' education records without the written consent of the students except to:
- the student himself/herself;
- University personnel who have a legitimate need to know in order to perform their assigned duties including but not limited to teaching, supervising, advising, counseling, processing, or maintaining official records and conducting educational research;
NOTE: The legitimacy of the need to know will be determined by the head of the unit from which the records are sought. Essentially, the standard that will be followed is that student information requested by any Western Illinois University instructor, staff member, or unit will be provided when it can be determined that the information is needed to allow the person or unit to accomplish or perform University-assigned tasks or duties. All members of the faculty, administration, and clerical staff must respect confidential information they acquire about students in the course of their work. They are bound by the conditions outlined in this policy statement relative to the release of student information.
- institutions at which the student seeks to enroll;
- persons or organizations providing student financial aid (with the proviso that only such information may be released to these sources as may be necessary for purposes of determining eligibility, amount, or conditions of financial aid, or enforcing terms or conditions of such aid);
- accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation functions;
- persons in compliance with a judicial order or pursuant to any lawfully issued subpoena (with the proviso that the institution shall make a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance therewith);
- persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons;
- parents of a student whom they demonstrate to be dependent as defined in section 152 of the Internal Code of 1954;
- authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary, the Commissioner, the Director of the National Institute of Education, or the Assistant Secretary of Education, and State educational authorities;
- organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions for the purpose of developing, validating or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, and improving instruction (with the proviso that the studies are conducted in a manner which will not permit the personal identification of students and their parents by individuals other than representatives of the organization, and the information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted);
- faculty or students conducting student characteristic research, providing the research project has written approval of the academic unit executive officer sponsoring the research and providing guarantees are made that no personally identifiable information will be published or released; and
- A person or company with whom the University has contracted (including an attorney, auditor, collection agent or other service provider-such as the National Student Clearinghouse or Credentials, Inc.);
- A person serving on the board of Trustees;
- 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;
- An alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of a that crime;
- The public regarding the the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University so long as the student has been determined to be the alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense;
- A parent of a student under the age of 21 concerning the student's violation of any law or University policy regarding the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substance; and
- To officials when the disclosure concerns sex offenders and other individuals required to register under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
All of the exceptions above are permitted by the federal regulations that implement the Act.
If access is sought through the written consent of a student, the consent must be signed and dated by the student and shall include a specification of the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made. Upon request, the institution will provide to the student a copy of the records disclosed through this method.
Within the Western Illinois University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the student's educational interest are allowed access to student education records. Record keeping personnel and members of the faculty and staff with administrative assignment may have access to records and files for legitimate educational interests as well as for routinely necessary clerical, administrative, and statistical purposes as required by the duties of their jobs.
Please note that it is not appropriate to use the Social Security number to post student grades.
Except for disclosures to students themselves, disclosures with the written consent of the student, disclosures to WIU personnel in the performance of their job responsibilities, or disclosures of directory information, any requests for disclosure must be recorded showing the legitimate educational or other purpose and the signature of the person gaining access. Whether or not the request is granted, the student concerned shall be entitled to review this record. Authorized parties who are allowed access will be required to state any plans they may have for additional disclosure; this information will also become a part of the record on access.Parties obtaining access through the written consent of the student will be informed that this method limits the right of access to parties explicitly named, and that for additional disclosure, further written consent must be obtained.
At its discretion, the institution may provide the following directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act in response to inquiries concerning an individual student whether the inquiries are in person, in writing or over the phone: the student's name, address, telephone number, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, honors received (including Dean's List), most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and, for members of athletic teams, weight and height. Any student who does not wish the above information to be released may prevent such release by sending a request in writing to the Office of the Registrar, Sherman Hall 110, Western Illinois University. The request for exclusion of directory information will be honored indefinitely; however, it does not affect directory information published or released prior to the request for exclusion. By requesting exclusion of directory information, students should be aware that all future requests for this information by anyone other than school officials with legitimate educational interests will be refused. 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 a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel decisions of the hearing officer are unacceptable. The Vice President for Student Services at Western Illinois University has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files and academic cooperative education and replacement records.
A request for access to official data maintained in a particular office may be made to the administrative head of that office. Such requests must be made in writing listing the item or items of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request.
When a student or former student appears at a given office and requests access to the University records about himself or herself, first the student must provide proper identification verifying that he/she is the person whose records are being accessed. Two, the designated staff person or persons must supervise the review of the contents of the records with the student. Three, copies of documents contained within a student's cumulative file will be made available to the student upon written request. (Exceptions: Academic record transmittal may be temporarily withheld as a result of financial obligation to the University, and copies of transcripts and records furnished by other colleges, universities, or schools will not be made available to the student if the document in question is available through the initiating agency.)
The actual cost of reproducing these records may be assessed to the student. Upon receiving a request to reproduce documents in a cumulative file, the office involved will notify the student requesting the documents of any reproduction costs which the student must pay.
Education records do not include records of law enforcement units, student health records, employment records (except records of student employment when such employment is contingent upon the fact that he or she is a student), alumni records, or records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except to a person hired as a temporary substitute for the maker. The personal files of members of the faculty and staff that concern students are not regarded as official records of the University. This includes notes intended for the personal use of the faculty or staff member and never intended to be official records of the University.
With regard to general health data, information which is used by the University in making decisions regarding the student's status is subject to review by the student under this policy. Written psychiatric and psychological case notes which form the basis for diagnosis or for recommendation or treatment plans remain privileged information not accessible to the student. Such case notes are not considered to be part of University official records. To insure the availability of correct and helpful interpretations of any psychological test scores, notes or other evaluative and medical records, the contents of these files for an individual student may be reviewed by that student only in consultation with a professional staff member of the specific department involved.
A student is entitled to review only that portion of an official record or file that pertains to him or her. Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents or guardians, confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review. No student is entitled to see information or records that pertain to another student, to parents or to other third parties. The institution 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 the established policies of confidentiality. Should a student desire access to a confidential letter or recommendation received prior to January 1, 1975, the student shall be advised to have the writer of the appraisal notify in writing the concerned records custodian of the decision as to whether or not the writer is willing to have the appraisal made available for the student's review. Unless a written response is received approving a change of status in the letter, the treatment of the letter as a confidential document shall continue.
Confidential letters and recommendations relating to students collected by the University or any department or office of the University on or after January 1, 1975, will be maintained confidentially only if a waiver of the right of access has been executed by the student. In the absence of a waiver all such documents will be available for student inspection and review.
Records relating to a continuing or active investigation by the campus Office of Public Safety or records of said office not relating to the student's status with the University are not subject to this policy.
Every student shall have the opportunity to challenge any item in his/her file which he/she considers to be inaccurate, misleading or inappropriate. Students shall initiate a challenge by submitting a written request to the custodian of the particular record in question. If the student's challenge is upheld, the records in question will be appropriately corrected.
If the custodian and the student involved are unable to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of both parties, the written request for deletion or correction shall be submitted by the student to the Vice President for Student Services. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice President for Student Services, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform the student of the date, place and time of the hearing.
At the hearing, a student may present evidence relative to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearing by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student's expense. The hearing officer will be the Vice President for Student Services or such other person as designated by the president.
Decisions of the hearing officer will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing 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 officer if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing officer. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student's record and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
FERPA rights cease upon a student's death. However, it is the policy of Western Illinois University that no confidential records of deceased students will be released after the date of death unless required by law or specifically authorized by the executor of the deseased's estate of by next of kin.
Notice of these policies and procedures will be published by the University, and copies will be made available to students upon request through any of the following offices:
- Financial Aid
- Student Development and Orientation
- University Housing and Dining Services
- Alumni House
- Graduate Studies
- Career Services
- Non-Traditional Degree Programs
- College Deans
The foregoing statement of the University becomes effective immediately. Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and institutional policy warrants.
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