FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff
The County College of Morris (CCM) Records and Registration Office, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is responsible for monitoring access to and release of information from student education records. The information provided on these pages is provided as a tool to answer general questions; it is not intended to include all academic policies and procedures.
Faculty and staff with access to student education records are legally responsible for protecting the privacy of the student by using information only for legitimate educational purposes to instruct, advise, or otherwise assist students.
Unless your position involves the release of information and you have been trained in that function, any requests for disclosure of information, especially from outside CCM, should be referred to the Registrar's Office.
Discussing a student's record with any person who does not have a legitimate educational interest (including, but not limited to parents, spouses, and employers) is a violation of FERPA. This pertains to all conversations and communications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a Federal Law that helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides students the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education
When do FERPA rights begin?
FERPA governs and protects students’ rights to their individual educational records. Students’ FERPA rights begin at the age of 18 years or when they enroll in an institution of higher education, whichever is earlier
How does FERPA affect letters of recommendation?
Writing a letter of recommendation may require express, written permission from the student to allow you 1) to access the student’s educational records and, 2) to disclose confidential information about the student to a third party. A faculty member may access a student’s educational records without the student’s express written permission only if specific job duties, such as the duties of an academic advisor, require access to those records. However, a faculty member, or any other appropriate college official, may not disclose confidential information from a student’s educational records to a third party without express, written permission from the student. If a student asks you to write a letter of recommendation for them please ask them to bring the Letter of Recommendation FERPA Release Form which can be found in the Office of Records and Registration or on the Records and Registration web page.
What information about students may be released to faculty members and other CCM staff members?
Items defined as directory information may be released without a student’s written permission, provided that the student has not chosen to restrict his or her directory information. All other personally identifiable information in a student’s educational record is confidential and may be disclosed to appropriate CCM faculty and staff members only if their normal job duties require such access.
What is Directory Information at CCM?
Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
CCM has established the following as directory information and it may be released to those requesting it unless the student specifically requests otherwise by submitting written notification to the Records and Registration Office and subsequently has a privacy/FERPA flag on her/his record.
- Student name
- CCM email address
- Field of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of athletic team members
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and awards received
- Enrollment status
CCM will not disclose any other information without written consent from the student. Students have the right to refuse the disclosure of personally identifiable information, as well as directory information, subject to other overriding provisions of law. To withhold directory information, students must fill out the Request to Prevent Disclosure of Information form located in the Records and Registration Office, Student Community Center, Rm. 220
If a student has chosen to restrict the release of directory information, NO information can be released without further written permission of the student. Should someone inquire about an individual who has restricted the release of his/her directory information, the appropriate faculty/staff response is, ““I have no record of such an individual.”
Do I have to release information from a student’s educations record?
FERPA regulations state that you MAY release directory information about a student, but FERPA does not require or compel the institution to do so.
What do I do about subpoenas?
If you receive a subpoena regarding a student’s education record, please send it to the Records and Registration Office, Student Community Center, Rm. 220. There are FERPA regulations that CCM must comply with before responding to subpoenas or court orders.
May I release confidential information to officially registered student groups?
Student groups do NOT have legitimate educational interest and consequently may not be given confidential information about a student or students without each student’s express, written permission.
May I access confidential information about students?
Access to personally identifiable information contained in educational records may be given to appropriate CCM administrators, faculty members, or staff members who require this access to perform their legitimate educational duties. Faculty members do not require knowledge of student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access. This type of access is termed “legitimate educational interest.”
What information about students may I disclose to parents?
Without the express, written permission of the student, parents, like all other third parties, including designees, may have access only to the student’s directory information. If a student has restricted his or her directory information, then the directory information is considered confidential and you should respond to any inquiries by saying “I have no record of such an individual.” Confidential information may be released to parents/guardians only with the expressed, written permission of the student.
Please refer parents/guardians seeking information from their students’ education records to the Records and Registration Office or the Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management Office.
Does FERPA affect the return of assignments?
Personally identifiable information about a student may not be disclosed without the student’s express, written permission. Therefore, extreme care should be used to protect such information (e.g., student ID numbers, SS#s) when returning assignments, term papers and exams to students.
Does FERPA affect the posting of grades?
FERPA prohibits the disclosure of any confidential student information in a personally identifiable manner without the student’s written consent. Faculty members may use student-specific, password-protected systems (such as CCM approved email addresses and BlackBoard) to communicate academic work, grades or other confidential information to students on an individual basis.
How do I properly dispose of confidential information?
Dispose of all material containing confidential information (such as tests, papers, class rosters) by shredding or by placing them in a college approved and secure receptacle intended for the collection of material to be disposed of in a secure manner.
Do's and Don'ts of FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Faculty and staff should keep the following guidelines in mind when dealing with student records:
- When in doubt, DO NOT release information to others. Consult the Records and Registration Office first (973-328-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org ).
- DO NOT save student data on unapproved drives, disks, etc. Utilize password protection and encryption methods to ensure data security.
- ALWAYS lock your computer and office upon departure, even for a brief period of time.
- Be aware of publicly visible computer screens (i.e. through windows, open doors, etc.).
- DO NOT display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, social security numbers (in whole or in part), CCM student ID number or other personally identifiable information.
- DO NOT leave stacked graded papers, assignments or exams for students to pick up--not even in sealed envelopes (unless you have the student's permission to do so). Instead, return assignments and exams in class.
- DO NOT request from any party a student’s grade(s) for another class(es) to assist in grading for your class. This does not constitute a legitimate educational interest.
- DO NOT circulate a printed class list for attendance purposes if it shows names and/or ID numbers.
- DO NOT release a student's class schedule to anyone. For security purposes, this information must be kept confidential.
- DO NOT share non-directory information from a student’s education records, such as grades or class schedules, with parents or guardians unless the student is present or if the student has voluntarily provided written permission for you to discuss the specific records with the individual. You may refer parents to the Records and Registration Office for FERPA information or explanation.
- DO NOT provide non-directory information to third parties such as prospective employers, associations, honorary organizations, etc., without the student’s written consent.
- DO understand that only the appropriate educational record custodian may release information about a student’s educational record to a third party outside the college.
- DO refer requests for information from the education record of a student to the proper educational record custodian (e.g., Registrar).
- DO NOT provide copies to students of their transcripts from other institutions. If you release copies of transcripts, you are acting as a third party testifying as to the accuracy of the information on the transcripts.
- DO NOT request information from the educational record custodian, or access a student’s record unless you have a legitimate educational interest with respect to that student and that record.
- DO follow the confidentiality principles of FERPA by not sharing education records information with your colleagues or co-workers unless a legitimate educational interest exists.
- DO NOT leave your workstation or computer unattended while logged in to Web Advisor, BlackBoard and/or Colleague and DO NOT give your password to another employee or student. You are responsible for maintaining the security of your university account and computer. This includes all transactions that occur under your username and password.
- DO be aware of your computer display and documents on and around your workstation that may be visible to others.
- DO shred or place in a receptacle intended for the confidential collection of material to be disposed of in a secure manner all unneeded documents that include personal student information (i.e. social security number, grades, etc.). Placing records in the trash is a violation of FERPA.
DO refer to the Records and Registration Office when you are
uncertain how to respond to a records information request.
"When In Doubt, Don't Give Out "