2022-2023 Bulletin: Policies and General Information 
    
    Oct 07, 2022  
2022-2023 Bulletin: Policies and General Information

Student Files: Privacy and Access (FERPA)


Student Privacy Policy / FERPA

Claremont Graduate University is committed to the privacy and security of its students. CGU policies support the University’s compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, which (a) establishes a post-secondary student’s general right to inspect and review his or her education records, and (b) generally prohibits outside parties from obtaining the information contained in such records without the student’s written consent.  FERPA affords current and former Claremont Graduate University students the following rights regarding their education records:

The right to inspect and review education records.

Students may request access to their education records maintained by any education official of the institution that is the keeper of the particular record. Education records do not include certain records such as sole possession records, medical records, certain employment records, and law enforcement records. Students and former students should apply to the registrar if they wish to review any of their personal files. They will be asked to complete a form specifying which records they wish to see. The Registrar will then collect the desired material so that the student or a person designated by the student may examine it in the presence of a representative of the University. If the student wishes, the University also will supply copies of material in the file at cost: 50 cents per page. If any material or document in the educational record of a student includes information on other students, the University will not supply the actual material or document. Instead, the University will provide only the specific information contained therein that directly relates to the student seeking access.

The University will generally respond to reasonable request for review and inspection within 45 days of a request. Students, however, do not have the right to inspect certain documents under FERPA, including, but not limited to:

  • Financial records of their parents
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation, where the student has waived the right to review and inspect those documents and they are related to the student’s admission, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.
  • Information containing the education record of another student without that student’s prior consent.

The right to seek to amend education records.

Students may request that records considered inaccurate, misleading, or an invasion of privacy be amended or removed from their education records. Requests are submitted directly to the record keeper, but may be appealed to the Dean of Students who will convene, if necessary, a special committee to review the request. The special committee will be composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, and administration. The committee’s decision will be made in writing within a reasonable period of time after the request is reviewed. The committee’s conclusions may then be appealed by means of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education. As a resolution to amending records, a student may document objections to a record in a written statement. The student’s statement must be maintained by the record keeper for as long as the objectionable record is maintained, and disclosed whenever the objectionable record is disclosed. Whether or not a student requests a hearing, and regardless of the outcome of any such hearing, the student may insert into his or her files a personal written explanation concerning any material the student believes is inaccurate, misleading or otherwise inappropriate.

The right to have some control over the disclosure of information from education records.

Except where permitted by FERPA, the prior consent of the student is required for the University to disclose non-directory information about a student to a third party. Students may request that the University not disclose certain or all information from their education records. Requests to restrict the disclosure of information from education records must be submitted in writing to the Registrar’s Office. These requests remain in effect until revoked in writing.

The right to file a complaint for an alleged violation of FERPA rights.

Questions, issues, and other problems regarding the FERPA rights of students at CGU should first be referred to the University Registrar. Formal complaints for an alleged violation of rights under FERPA are filed in writing with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington DC 20202-5920.

Directory information

In compliance with FERPA, the University designates the following personally identifiable information about a student as directory information:

  • name
  • CGU e-mail address
  • degree/certificate program of study
  • concentration of study
  • dates of attendance
  • degrees, certificates, and honors received, including the conferral date
  • most recent previous institution attended
  • photograph
  • published dissertation/thesis title

Unless restricted by a student, directory information may be released to the public without the prior consent of the student.

Definition of Education Records

Education records include records in any medium, which directly relate to a student who is or has been in attendance at Claremont Graduate University and maintained by Claremont Graduate University.  These routine records include, but are not limited to, grades, transcripts, student course schedules, student financial information, and student disciplinary files.  Faculty and staff are responsible for protecting the identity of students and keeping student education records confidential. Grades or other education records linked to personal identifiers (names, Claremont Graduate University ID numbers, or social security numbers) may not be publicly disclosed.

Offices maintaining portions of each student’s education record are:

  • The Dean of Students Office
  • Offices within Student Affairs
  • The Office of Admissions
  • The Office of Financial Aid
  • The Registrar’s Office
  • The offices of each relevant academic department
  • The Office of Alumni
  • The Office of Finance and Administration
  • The Office of the Provost
  • Human Resources
  • The Office of Advancement
  • The Center for Writing and Rhetoric
  • Preparing Future Faculty

In addition, the following Claremont Colleges Services offices (Black Student Affairs, Campus Safety, Chicano/Latino Student Affairs, EmPower Center, Health Education Office, Library, Monsour Counseling Center, Queer Resource Center, Student Health Services, and Student Disability Resource Center) may also maintain portions of a student’s education record.

The University permits access to specific student information by education officials with a legitimate educational interest. Legitimate educational interest exists when an education official requires access to specific information about a student in order to accomplish a University-delegated task or function.

Students who have questions about information in any of these files should see the managers/directors of the offices involved.

Release of Education Records

Except as provided in FERPA or other applicable law, Claremont Graduate University will not disclose personally identifiable information from education records. Students must complete the FERPA Authorization to Release Information from Student Education Records form and submit it to the Registrar’s Office in order to request disclosures to individuals or entities who are not education officials as designated in CGU’s Student Privacy/FERPA policy.

The University maintains a record of each request for access to and each release of personally identifiable information from a student’s education records.  Exceptions to this requirement include disclosures to a University official in completion of a University-delegated task or function, a person with written consent, or a person requesting directory information, and disclosures in connection with a grand jury or other law enforcement subpoena prohibiting disclosure of its existence or contents or an ex parte court order.

Some records created and maintained by the College, although not covered by FERPA, may be subject to other federal and state laws or regulations regarding disclosure.

Per FERPA, the prior written consent of the student is required for CGU to disclose non-directory information from a student’s record. The FERPA Authorization form is available on the Registrar’s Form Index webpage.

Disclosure Restrictions

Students who wish to restrict the disclosure of information (sometimes known as a FERPA block) from their education records must submit a FERPA Records Restriction Form to the Registrar’s Office. Records identified by students for restriction are binding for all parties except in circumstances as outlined under FERPA (see below). Students should consider very carefully the consequences of any decision to withhold any category of directory information. Such designation will require CGU not to release any restricted information to third parties (including but not limited to potential employers, organizations, etc.) and prohibit the inclusion of restricted information in CGU publications such as the commencement program without a written release from the student containing the following:

  1. What information is to be released
  2. To whom the information is to be released
  3. The purpose for which it is to be released
  4. Student’s authorizing signature and the date signed
  5. The length of time the authorization will be valid

The restriction of information is permanent until requested, in writing, that it be removed, even after a student has stopped attending or has graduated. The FERPA Non-disclosure form is available on the Registrar’s Form Index webpage.

Students who wish to restrict the disclosure of information from their education records must submit a FERPA Records Restriction Form to the Registrar’s Office.

Exceptions to Disclosure Restrictions

There are specific FERPA exceptions to use and disclosure restrictions. Situations where Claremont Graduate University may disclose student information without an authorization are as follows:

  • To officials of another school where the student seeks, intends, or has enrolled;
  • To other educational institutions with whom CGU has exchange or articulation agreements for purposes related to a student’s enrollment or cross registration;
  • In connection with the student’s request for or receipt of financial aid;
  • To certain federal, state or local government authorities in connection with the audit or evaluation of educational programs (these government authorities may further disclose information to outside entities that are designated by them to conduct any audit, evaluation or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf);
  • To U.S. military recruiters per the 1996 Solomon Amendment federal law;
  • To certain entities conducting studies or audits on behalf of the University, by federal, state, or local education authorities, or by professional and other educational organizations;
  • In compliance with court orders and subpoena;
  • In any emergency situation where the information is needed to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons.
  • When violations to federal, state, or local regulations have occurred and violations to institutional policy have been determined in regard to crimes of violence or non-forcible sex acts and, for students under the age of 21, the use or possession of alcohol or other controlled substances; and
  • Per additional contingencies set forth in FERPA.

University officials, including contracted service providers, who receive education records must comply with all FERPA regulations regarding re-disclosure and the privacy of such education records.

The University reserves the right to remove and destroy any material from any student’s files, except when a student has properly requested access to the files and has not yet been granted admission.

Addendum - January 2012

As of January 3, 2012, the US Department of Education expanded the circumstances under which disclosure of education records–including Social Security Numbers, grades, and other non-directory information–may be permitted without the prior written consent of the student.

The US Comptroller General, the US Attorney General, the US Secretary of Education, and other state and local authorities may allow access to any third party designated by a federal or state authority for the purpose of evaluating a federal- or state-supported education program. Evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” including early childhood education, job training, and any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

In addition, federal and state authorities may allow access to education records to researchers performing certain types of studies, even if Claremont Graduate University objects to or has not initiated such research. Federal and state authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data securities agreements from entities they authorize to access and receive personally identifiable information from education records. However, federal and state authorities are not required to possess or maintain direct control over those entities.

To facilitate the development of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS), state authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share personally identifiable information from education records without the prior consent of the student. These data efforts may track student participation in education and other programs by linking personally identifiable information obtained from federal and state sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Faculty and Staff Responsibility for Student Privacy (FERPA)

Faculty and Staff are responsible for protecting the education records they store about students enrolled in their classes. The fact that the student is registered for a class is non-directory information; thus, Faculty and Staff may not release a class list or even a student’s name to a third party. Other non-directory information one might maintain about students in a class includes class attendance records, quizzes and exams grades, homework, etc. All of these records are considered education records, and must be protected.

Claremont Graduate University staff and faculty members performing instructional, supervisory, advisory, or administrative duties for Claremont Graduate University are considered to have a legitimate educational need for access to student data for students for whom they are performing these functions.

The Claremont Graduate University Registrar (for academic records), and/or Dean of Students (for disciplinary records), in consultation with the University’s legal counsel, determines validity of and extent of compliance with subpoenas and court orders. Accordingly, Faculty and Staff should always contact the Registrar when presented with a subpoena or court order as soon as possible. If in doubt, it is always wiser to err on the side of caution than to release information that may constitute a FERPA violation.

When responding to an inquiry about a student, staff and faculty must determine whether the student has placed a restriction on his/her record. If a student has filed a restriction, records are marked as confidential. An appropriate response to an inquiry about a student with a directory restriction is “I’m sorry, I have no information for a person (or individual) by that name.” Note: Use of the term “student” in your response is not permitted under FERPA regulations. You may not respond to the inquiry by indicating that the person has restricted the release of his/her directory information. If any faculty or staff are uncertain about whether a student has restricted any part of their record, they should consult with the Registrar’s Office.

Without student permission, grades or evaluations may be posted whether on office doors or on a Learning Management System (e.g., Canvas or Sakai) only by using randomly generated codes or numbers. Graded papers, exams, quizzes and other assignments are considered part of the student’s education record, and must be returned to the student in a manner designed to maintain confidentiality.

Questions

Questions regarding FERPA and the application of FERPA at CGU should be directed to the University Registrar.