The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law regarding the privacy of student education records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of records and access provided to these 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.
Any record maintained by Gonzaga that contains information that is personally identifiable to a student (in whatever format or medium) is considered to be an education record with some narrowly defined exceptions to include the following:
- Sole possession records or private notes held by a school official that are not accessible or released to other personnel.
- Law enforcement or campus security records created and maintained by a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose.
- Employment records of an individual who is employed by the institution unless the employment is contingent on student status.
- Medical/psychological treatment records.
- Alumni records created after the student has graduated or left the institution.
At Gonzaga, FERPA rights belong to the student who is in attendance beginning with his/her first day of class regardless of age. The definition of a student applies to all students including continuing education students, students auditing a class, distance education students, and former students.
FERPA affords students the following basic rights in respect to their education record:
- Right to inspect and review their education record maintained by the school.
- Right to request an amendment to the record that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
- Right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information.
- Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
Challenging the Content of Education Records
A student who wishes to challenge information in their records must submit, in writing, a request for a hearing to the appropriate office maintaining the record, listing the specific information in question and the reasons for the challenge.
Hearings will be conducted by a university official who has no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.
Students shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the reasons for the challenge.
The hearing officer will render a decision, in writing, noting the reason and summarizing all evidence presented within a reasonable time frame after the challenge is filed.
Should the hearing be in favor of the student, the record shall be amended accordingly. Should the request be denied, an appeal may be made in writing, and submitted to the University Registrar within 10 days of the student’s notification of the decision of the hearing officer. The appeal shall be heard by an appeals board of three senior University officials and a decision rendered, in writing, within a reasonable period of time.
Once a student reaches the age of 18 or begins their attendance at a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. Parents can obtain information from their child’s education record if the student has submitted a signed consent form to the Registrar’s Office or if proof of dependency status has been provided through the receipt of a copy of the most recent income tax statement by the Registrar’s Office.
A school official is 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 as its agent to provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); 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. Upon request, the University also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
Legitimate Educational Interest
A legitimate education interest exists when a school official requires access to a student’s record in order to perform their instructional, supervisory, advisory, or administrative duties. FERPA allows universities to give school officials who have legitimate educational interest access to education records without the written and signed consent of the student.
Those data items that are generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Each institution establishes what it considers to be directory information. Gonzaga University does not authorize distribution of listings of student names with addresses and/or telephone numbers to any entity outside of the University unless it is required by law or otherwise allowed by FERPA. Gonzaga has deemed the following information as directory information:
- Student name
- Addresses & phone numbers
- E-mail addresses
- Place of birth
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance
- Full or part time enrollment status
- Year in school (class)
- Degree(s) received and date(s) conferred
- Scholastic honors and awards received
- Other educational institutions attended
- Visual images (through photographs or videos)
- Height and weight of athletic team members
Directory information may be published in a student directory or event program and released to the media and to the public for enrolled students.
Every student is given the opportunity to have directory information suppressed from public release through their signed consent on a form available from the Registrar’s Office. With this agreement, the information will not be disclosed unless authorized under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
Gonzaga notifies eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. Gonzaga provides this notification to each student via e-mail and through publications such as the University catalogs.
FERPA AdministrationOffice of the Registrar
College Hall 229, 502 E Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99258-0083
(509) 313-6592 Direct
(509) 313-5828 Fax
(509) 793-1723 (Toll-Free)
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520