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FERPA for Parents

What rights does FERPA grant me as the parent of a Whitworth student?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act transfers certain privacy rights from parent to student once the student reaches 18 years of age or is enrolled in a post-secondary institution, regardless of age. In general it denotes that students who reach either of these milestones must give permission for their parents to access any non-directory information. This means parents no longer enjoy the same right of access they had when their student attended primary or secondary institutions.

What is directory and non-directory information?

FERPA defines directory information as that information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. In accordance with FERPA, Whitworth University classifies the following information as directory information: student's name, address, email address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, class standing, full- or part-time status, degrees and awards received, most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, denominational affiliation, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletics teams.

All other information is deemed non-directory, meaning that it can be released only with the permission of the student. Some common examples of non-directory information are grades, class schedule, grade point average, and academic transcripts.

May I request a transcript on behalf of my student?

Transcripts are considered non-directory information. Therefore, a parent may not request his or her student's transcript.

How does my student grant me access to his or her non-directory information?

Students may grant their parents access to non-directory information by completing the Permission to Release Educational Records form or by checking the appropriate box when completing their e-billing packets online.

What is the FERPA procedure in health or safety emergencies?

If non-directory information is required during an emergency, Whitworth University may release that information if it deems that the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

What is the definition of a "school official"?

The right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

FERPA permits disclosure without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is defined as a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support-staff position (including law-enforcement-unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the university has contracted for a service or operations function (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. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

The university may disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education record to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Furthermore, the university is required by law (the Solomon Amendment) to provide the name and address of all students to any legitimate military recruiter who makes such a request in writing to the registrar's office. This applies even if a student has submitted a request to withhold directory information.

FERPA regulations detail other exceptions that allow disclosure without a student's consent.