Student Records Procedures & Privacy
The following statements relate to SRSU and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment. For details, call the Center for Enrollment Services at (432) 837-8049.
Table of Contents
- Public Information
- Confidential Information
- Custodians of Student Records
- Release of Grades
- Right to Challenge Content of Records
- Waiver of Right of Access to Confidential Recommendations
- Creation, Permanence and Disposal of Student Records
- Complaint Procedures
FERPA and Student Records Procedures
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. They are:
- The right to inspect and review the student's education records.
- The right to request the amendment of the student's education records to ensure that they are not inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy or other rights.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The right to file with the U.S. Department of Education a complaint concerning alleged failures by Sul Ross State University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
- The right to obtain a copy of the Sul Ross State University's Student Records Policy. A copy of the policy is available at the The Center for Enrollment Services, Lawrence Hall, Room 213. For information regarding the Student Records Policy, please contact the Office of the Registrar at (432) 837-8049.
Sul Ross State University maintains various records concerning students to document their academic progress as well as to counsel effectively with them. In order that the students' rights to privacy be preserved, as well as to conform with federal law, the university has established certain procedures to govern the handling of student records. Federal regulations, as they relate to student records, are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Buckley Amendment). Generally, this act provides that currently enrolled or former students have the right of access to their educational records and the opportunity for a hearing to challenge such records, if necessary, on the grounds that the records are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise inappropriate.
In compliance with the federally-enacted regulations of the Privacy Act, public information regarding students attending Sul Ross State University shall be the student's name, current address (including telephone), permanent address, SRSU e-mail address, year at the university, academic major field of study, date and place of birth, degrees and awards received with dates, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletic teams, and most recent educational institution attended. (Information contained in personal files of the student is considered confidential and requires written authorization by the student for release, provided such records, with names and personal identification deleted and kept confidential, may be made available for governmental or university-approved research and analysis.) Public information pertaining to any individual student will be released by the Office of the Registrar upon inquiry, unless the student has requested that specific items not be released. A student's request to have "public" information withheld must be filed at the Office of the Registrar no later than the "last day of late registration and schedule changes" of each academic session. Partial or whole lists of students by name and address will not be released for commercial purposes other than by contractual agreement with the university.
With the exception of the information noted above, all student records are considered to be confidential and are open only to university personnel (individuals under contract) who need the information to carry out their official responsibilities (assigned duties and functions). Although university personnel are authorized access to this information on a "need-to-know" basis (to perform specific duties and functions), they are not permitted to release information to persons outside the university unless authorized in writing, by the student by a court order or according to the exceptions listed in IV-C. Only the official or designated person responsible for the records has the authority to release them. Records may be disclosed to a third party only on condition that the recipient will not permit others to have access to the information without the written consent of the student. It is important that a record of access (of persons other than university employees responsible for working with the records and university officials who have legitimate educational interests -- need to know to fulfill official responsibilities) to student records be kept by the record holder which indicates:
- name and signature of person who requested or examined the file;
- the purpose for which the file was accessed;
- date on which access to record occurred;
- a clear notice that the information must not be released by a third party without the consent of the student.
Students have the right to inspect, review or receive an interpretation of copies of their educational records, except as excluded below. This right may be exercised by filing a Student Request to Inspect and Review Educational Records form with the custodian of the records to which access is desired. Such requests should be honored as quickly as possible and reasonable, normally within 48 hours; if detailed documentation and/or interpretation is required, the request should be honored within ten (10) days. In all cases, requests for such information must be honored within 45 days. If a copy(ies) of a portion or all of the records in a student's file is requested, the custodian of the records may charge a fee for copies made, provided fee does not effectively prevent students from exercising their right to inspect and review (under supervision of a university employee) their records. You may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve records. Standard fees are outlined in Section 2.18 (Charges for Public Records) of the Administrative Policy Manual. Each custodian of records is responsible for requiring proper identification of individual making the request about his/her records.
Educational institutions are not required to make available to students in institutions of post-secondary education the following records:
- confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records prior to January 1, 1975;
- financial records of the parents of the students or any information contained therein;
- records maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professionals are not open for student's inspection. Students may, however, have an appropriate professional of their choosing inspect such records;
- confidential recommendations for admission, employment or honors are not open to student access if the student has waived his/her right to access. General waiver forms are available and on file at the Registrars Office;
- law enforcement records maintained solely for law enforcement purposes are unavailable for student access and may be used only by law enforcement officials;
- records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary thereto which are in the sole possession of the maker thereof and which are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a substitute (an individual who performs on a temporary basis the duties of the individual who made the record).
In addition to the student access stipulations, the act provides that the university may release without the student's permission personally identifiable educational records to:
- officials or faculty of the university who have legitimate educational interest (need to know to fulfill official responsibilities);
- officials of other schools or school systems in which the students seek to enroll; in this instance, no notice of release of records needs to be sent to the student;
certain federal and state educational authorities: (99.31)
- the Comptroller General of the United States;
- the Secretary of Education;
- the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education;
- state educational authorities;
- accrediting and university-approved testing agencies;
- parents of dependent students (requires signed statement from parent claiming that student is dependent per Internal Revenue Code of 1954);
- appropriate parties in connection with an emergency when the immediate health or safety of the student is threatened;
- persons presenting an officially-related judicial order or lawfully-issued subpoena; and,
- institutions from which the student has received or applied to for, financial aid.
The Office of the Registrar shall be responsible for the proposal, interpretation, enforcement, and publication of general policies and procedures consistent with state and federal laws and guidelines as they relate to the creation, maintenance, use, dissemination and destruction of records of students who are attending or have attended Sul Ross State University, and shall coordinate the development of general policies and procedures with the appropriate university officials listed below. The University maintains a Records Retention Schedule that determines the length of time a record is maintained and the record disposal date. Sul Ross State University considers a "school official" to be a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, support staff, student assistant or in a teaching/research assistant position; a person or company with whom the university has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using university employees or officials; a person serving on the board of regents,; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or assisting another school official in performing his/her duties. Each type of student record is the responsibility of a designated university official, and only that professional staff member or designee has authority to release the records. The responsible officials are:
- Academic and Admissions Records
- Dean, School of Arts and Sciences Ferguson Hall, Room 108
- Dean, School of Professional Studies Morelock Academic Building, Room 203
- Dean, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences Everett E. Turner Range Animal Science Center, Room 100
- Title V - Student Success Center Ferguson Hall, Room 215
- Office of the Registrar (Official Custodian of Academic Records)
- Office of Recruiting Lawrence Hall, Room 100
- Associate Vice President for Development (Custodian of Permanent Alumni Records) Briscoe Administration Building, Room 201D
- Business Records (tuition, fees, grants)
- Office of the Controller (Custodian of Permanent Financial Records) Briscoe Administration Building, Room 204
- Career Planning
- Director of Career/Life Center Morgan University Center, Room 211C
- Counseling Records and Test Scores
- Director of Student Support Services Ferguson Hall, Room 112
- Career/Life Center Morgan University Center, Room 211
- Disciplinary Records
- Dean of Student Life Morgan University Center, Room 211
- Human Resources (Custodian of Permanent Personnel Records) Briscoe Administration Building, Room 110
- Financial Aid Briscoe Administration Building, Room 104
- Career/Life Center Morgan University Center, Room 211
- Evaluation for Admission to Graduate Programs
- Academic Deans, Department Chairpersons or Director of Recruiting Briscoe Administration Building, Room 104
- Financial Aid
- Director of Financial Aid(Custodian of Permanent Financial Aid Records) Lawrence Hall, Room 213
- Office of the Controller Briscoe Administration Building, Room 204
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Athletic Director Pete P. Gallego Center, Room 201
- Library Materials
- Librarian Wildenthal Memorial Library
- Medical Records
- Student Health Center Morgan University Center, Room 211
- Special Academic Programs
- Deans, Chairpersons or faculty members in charge of the program
- Placement Credentials
- Director of Career/Life Center (Custodian of Permanent Placement Records) Morgan University Center, Room 211
- Traffic and Security Records
- Director of University Public Safety Briscoe Administration Building, Room 100
- Veterans Records
- Registrar Lawrence Hall, Room 213
- Student Activities
- Officers of student organizations Morgan University Center
- Coordinator of Campus Activities Morgan University Center, Room 106
Note: Names of persons occupying positions listed and locations, may be found in the Faculty/Staff Telephone Guide.
- Academic and Admissions Records
Reports of a student's grades are not sent to the student's parents. However, parents of a dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, may obtain grades without student's consent upon presentation of a signed statement claiming that student is dependent. The posting of student's grades is prohibited unless:
- each student signs a waiver of his/her right to privacy; or
- a confidential number (other than full/partial Social Security Number/ Student ID) or code is agreed upon between the instructor and individual student prior to the posting.
The returning of papers via an "open" distribution system, e.g. stacking them on an open table, is a violation of a student's right to privacy, unless student(s) submits signed waiver to instructor for such purpose.
A student may challenge the accuracy of handling of educational records maintained by the university on grounds that the records are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise violate the privacy or other rights of the students. Students who wish to exercise these rights should file a Student Record Challenge Request form with the custodian of the records in question. Each unit which is responsible for a record system shall put into writing, including a form which can be made available to students, the appeal in hearing procedures which exist for that unit. In general, the appeal and hearing steps will occur in the following sequence until relief is granted or final decision is rendered by the President:
- appeal for administrative review by the person named as custodian of the record system;
- appeal for administrative review by the dean or director to whom the custodian is responsible;
- request for hearing to the vice president for the unit maintaining the the record system. A formal hearing will be set up by that office and the decision of the hearing panel will be recommended to the president. The student shall be given an opportunity to present to the panel evidence relevant to the issues raised and the panel shall issue a written response. The student may be assisted or represented by individuals of his/her choice at his/her own expense, including an attorney;
- should the student disagree with the response from the Office of the President, the student has the right to place in the educational records a statement commenting on the information in the record and/or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the Office of the President.
The waiver to right of access for a letter of recommendation is allowed for three purposes:
- admission to another educational institution;
- receipt of an award or honor.
These are the only areas in which waivers are allowed. A student's signature on a waiver is voluntary and is not required as a condition for admission, receipt of financial aid or receipt of any other services or benefits from the university. Students who sign the waiver will, upon request, be notified of the names of all persons making confidential recommendations and such recommendations will be used solely for the purpose for which they were specifically intended and will be released only in accordance with the University Student Record Release Policy. Revocation of waivers must be in writing to be effective.
The following is a general guideline regarding the disposal of student records:
- only such records as are demonstrably and substantially relevant to the educational purposes of the university shall be generated or maintained;
- permanent retention of student records is limited to those records which are of long-range value to the individual, the university or mandated by state or federal guidelines;
- all duplicate copies of permanent records, other than those maintained by the custodian of the permanent record (See Item V) and all non-permanent student records shall be maintained only for the minimum period of time required to serve the basic official function of the individual or department generating or maintaining them. Such records shall be destroyed as soon as they are no longer needed, e.g., within one year following graduation or two years after last date of attendance. A student will be granted access to his records prior to their destruction when the student has an unsatisfied request outstanding.
Students are encouraged to report any violations and seek redress from SRSU officials responsible for the area in which the violation occurred (see attached "Specific Procedures Pertaining to Student Records -- II). However, complaints regarding violations of rights accorded students by Section 438 of the Privacy Rights of Parents and Students Act or the regulation, may be submitted to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Such allegations must be submitted in writing.