The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – 1974
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 permits current or former students to inspect certain college educational records pertaining to them as individuals and to obtain copies. Students are also accorded the right to question the content of a record and to receive a formal hearing if dissatisfied with responses to such questions.
Written consent from a student is required before personally identifiable information can be released from the individual educational record in all cases except tuition and fee obligations and those specifically exempted by law.
There is certain directory information that the College may release without the student’s permission.
Directory Information at the College at Oneonta is defined as the following:
- student name
- postal addresses (not residence hall addresses)
- phone numbers
- electronic mail addresses
- major field(s)
- academic advisor
- dates of attendance
- class year
- full/part-time enrollment status
- degrees and awards received
- most recent previous school attended
- participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- height, weight and photographs of members of athletic teams.
Students wishing to prevent directory information from being released must contact the College Registrar, in writing or in person, to request that a “confidential” flag be placed on his or her record. These confidential flags will be placed within 48 hours of receipt of the request and will be in effect until the student provides the College Registrar with a written request to remove the confidential flag.
The Institutional FERPA Policy Statement, containing complete College policies and procedures for exercising student rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is available from the College Registrar. Inquiries or complaints may be filed with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
FERPA prohibits posting of grades using student name, SS#, Oneonta ID number or portions thereof. Please refer to the chapter on Grading for details.
Faculty Access to Student Records
Instructors have a right to access a student’s education record only if they are the advisor of record for the student. An instructor who may be deliberating on evaluating a student in his/her course may not have access to a student’s record. An instructor concerned about a non-advisee may not have access to a student record. In such cases, guidance can be provided by the Registrar’s Office (x2472).
Advisor records kept by a department or individual advisor are considered part of a student’s education record and may be accessed by the student. An exception to this would be “desk notes”. Desk notes are those items which are kept separate from the student’s file and are accessible only to the maker of the note. If others have access to those items, they are considered part of the education record.
Employees of the College who demonstrate a “need to know” in order to accomplish official functions of their jobs (e.g., department chairs, program managers, coaches, certain College committees, etc.), may have access to student record information. If access has not been granted, requests for permission to access such information may be directed to the Registrar’s Office (x2472).
Communicating With Parents
It is not uncommon for parents to call a student’s instructor or advisor requesting information such as grades, attendance, progress toward degree, etc. And, in some instances, advisors or instructors may wish to contact parents regarding a student. It is a violation of FERPA to discuss or share information contained in a student’s record with anyone other than the student, unless you have written permission from that student. If you have a parent on the phone who does not understand this Federal regulation, you may transfer the call to the Registrar’s Office (x2472). You may also call the Registrar’s Office for advice before returning a call for student information.
Verifying Student Record Information
The Registrar’s Office is the only office authorized to verify student record information. If your office receives a telephone or written request to locate a student, to verify a student’s attendance or graduation, or if you receive a subpoena or other official request for information on a student, you should direct these queries directly to the Registrar’s Office (Netzer 128, x2472).
Any requests from the FBI or other agencies regarding International Students must be directed to the Senior Assistant to the President (Netzer 301, x2748)
Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
Public Officers Law Section 84-90
Purpose. To ensure that the Freedom of Information Law is followed in all requests for access to College Records.
What is a record? Any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced within or for an agency of the State.
What is an accessible record? All records are “accessible,” except specific records or portions thereof which are considered “deniable.”
What is a deniable record? Deniable records include records or portions thereof that:
- Are specially exempt from disclosure
- Would, if disclosed, result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
- Would, if disclosed, endanger the life or safety of a person
- Are inter-agency or intra-agency communications, except statistical data
- Are computer access codes
- Are beyond basic directory information for students
- Are beyond faculty lists, positions, departments, rank, salary
How may a request for records be made? A person, outside agency or group may request information from SUNY Oneonta by writing the Records Access Officer, President’s Office. The request must reasonably describe the record or records that are being requested. The request shall be as specific as possible, describing as appropriate, dates, titles, files, and designations.
Within five business days of the receipt of the written requests, the College will respond in writing as to the approximate date the record or material will be granted or denied. Fees may be charged for duplication, clerical assistance, or reproduction.
Denial of access will be in writing, stating the reason. Any person, group, or agency who feels that a request has been denied unfairly may appeal within 30 days. Copies of all relevant correspondence will be sent to the State Office, and Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules will be followed.
Please direct questions or requests for information to:
Records Access Officer
Netzer Administration Building
Do not confuse the FOIL with the College’s academic and administrative office’s rights to request student information under the FERPA regulations. On campus requests for student information should continue to be requested from the College Registrar.
Requests for the release of information under provisions of the Freedom on Information Act should be forwarded to the Senior Assistant to the President for appropriate action.
Institutional Policy on Military Recruitment
Access to Campuses and Student Information (Solomon Amendment)
The College at Oneonta provides the military with access to the campus and student information in accordance with the requirements of the Solomon Amendment.
The College at Oneonta’s definition of directory information differs from that required by the Solomon Amendment. We are not in violation of FERPA by providing directory information as required by the Solomon Amendment.
Directory information, as defined by the Solomon Amendment, is as follows:
- e-mail address
- telephone listing
- date and place of birth
- level of education (class year)
- academic major
- degrees received
- the most recent previous school attended
Requests from Recruiters for directory information should be directed to the College Registrar.
The College Registrar will request Computer Services to generate a “Solomon Directory”.
The “Solomon Directory” will contain only those items listed above and will contain only those students currently enrolled at the time of the request.
The “Solomon Directory” will exclude any currently enrolled student who has requested confidentiality under the College’s FERPA policy.
The “Solomon Directory” will exclude any student under 17 years of age.
There will be no fee charged for the “Solomon Directory”.
The College is not obligated to provide the “Solomon Directory” on disk or via mailing labels.
Media and Public Information Policy
SUNY College at Oneonta actively seeks public awareness and support of our accomplishments, programs, and personnel. Therefore, it is important for the College to have a consistent policy in releasing information to the media. In dealing with the media, all College personnel should follow the policies outlined below:
- Disclosure of information will be in keeping with public laws, the people’s right to know, and the College’s mission, with strong consideration of individual rights to privacy.
- The College will continue its commitment to the principles of free speech, academic freedom, and intellectual inquiry.
- The principal media spokesperson for the institution on official matters will be the Director of Communications, who will exercise final authority over the release of information to the media, except as otherwise specified in this statement. Additional spokespersons may be designated in particular situations to respond to specific media requests.
- Authority to issue official College news releases rests solely with the Director of Communications.
- College faculty and staff members are encouraged to assist the Director of Communications in the development of information regarding policies, programs, plans, decisions and actions of the College. Information, positive or negative, should be provided promptly and accurately to the responsible College officials.
- New College policies and programs will be announced by the President, Director of Communications, or other specifically designated spokespersons.
- Faculty and staff are encouraged to assist news media representatives with requests relevant to their academic specialties. The Director of Communications occasionally refers representatives of the media to members of the College community and appreciates the cooperation and response of the College faculty and staff to such requests.
- All employees are requested to inform the Director of Communications of media inquiries that are related to College business.
- College employees should distinguish carefully between official information and personal opinions when dealing with the media. Care should be taken to point out that they are not representing the College in statements of personal opinion. College letterhead or electronic media should not be used in communications of personal opinions to the media.
- Requests for the release of information under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act should be forwarded to the Senior Assistant to the President for appropriate action.
Approved by President’s Cabinet November 1998, updated September 2005 & July 2010
Protecting Personally Identifiable Information
Any printed material that contains either student or employee personally identifiable information (e.g., name, address, social security and/or Oneonta ID number) must be shredded. It cannot be thrown into the garbage or with the recyclables. Employees who do not have access to departmental shredders may use the shredder that is located in the Print Shop in the basement of the Administration Building. Questions regarding student information should be referred to the Registrar (x3216). Questions regarding employee information referred to the Office of Human Resources (x2509).