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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Notice to Students of Privacy Rights
Release of Information Form
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a federal law that states: (a) that a written institutional policy must be established; and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students must be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Seattle Film Institute (SFI) accords all the rights under this law to students who are declared independent. No one outside of the institution shall be permitted access to—nor will the institution disclose any information from—a student’s educational records without his or her written consent. FERPA permits information to be released from education records without written consent of the student to the following officials and agencies:
- Officials of other institutions to which students are applying to enroll
Persons or organizations providing financial aid
- Individuals and organizations charged with oversight of the university, or of federal or state programs in which the university participates, accrediting agencies
- Parents of any student under the age of 21, regardless of the student’s dependency status in cases where the student has violated laws or institution rules governing alcohol or controlled substances
- Persons as directed by a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, provided the university makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student in advance of compliance (unless directed by judicial authorities not to disclose the existence of an order or subpoena)
- Persons in an emergency to protect the health or safety of students or other persons
- The Immigration and Naturalization Service under the terms and provisions of immigration law
With the exception of alcohol and drug violations, SFI does not release information from student education records to parents without the written consent of students.
FERPA permits the institution to release information concerning violent crimes and non-forcible sex offenses (statutory rape or incest) committed by its students. Victims of an alleged violent crime or non-forcible sex offense may be informed of the final results of university disciplinary hearings concerning the allegation. When a student is an alleged perpetrator of a violent crime or a non-forcible sex offense and the institution concludes with respect to that allegation that the student has violated university rules, the institution may release to the public the name of the student, the offense committed, and the sanction the institution imposes against the student.
FERPA further allows student education records to be released to individuals or organizations performing research on behalf of, or in cooperation with, the institute. When education records are released for research purposes, FERPA requires the institute and its research partners to implement procedures to safeguard their confidentiality. In addition, records released for research must be returned or destroyed when the research is completed, and research findings may not be presented in a manner that makes it possible to identify confidential data from an individual’s education record. SFI releases information from student education records to outside researchers only under the conditions specified by FERPA and only to those that agree in writing to safeguard the confidential information contained therein.
Within the SFI community, only those members (individually or collectively) acting in the student’s educational interest(s) are allowed access to student educational records. These members include personnel in offices defined by the institution, e.g., offices of Admissions, Career Services, Financial Aid and Registrar Services, along with specific academic personnel within their need-to-know limitations.
At its discretion, the institution may provide directory information in accordance with the FERPA provisions including: student name, current and permanent home address and telephone number, e-mail address, a photograph, date of birth, dates of attendance, class, major fields of study, previous institutions attended, awards and honors (including honor roll), and degrees conferred (including dates. Students may stipulate the withholding of their directory information by notifying the registrar in writing.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their educational records, to challenge the content and accuracy of those records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory and, if they believe the decisions of the hearing panel are unacceptable, to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files. The institute’s registrar has been designated by the institution to coordinate inspection and review procedures for student educational records, which include admission, personal, academic and placement records. Students wishing to review their educational records must make written requests to the registrar listing the item or items of interest. Only records covered by FERPA will be made available within forty-five (45) days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions (e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial hold exists or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere).
Educational records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel, which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute; employment records that relate exclusively to individuals in their capacities as employees; and alumni or other post-attendance records. FERPA regulations apply only to records held for institutional use concerning students who enroll at the institute; they do not govern records of applicants who are denied admission or who choose not to attend the institute. Nor do they govern records kept by an institute official that are the sole possession of the maker and are not normally revealed to anyone else except a temporary substitute (e.g., temporary reminder notes).
Students may not inspect or review the following as outlined by FERPA: financial information submitted by their parents, confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment or job placement, honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review, or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to the part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or are otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the registrar. If the decisions are in agreement with the student’s requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended and they will then be informed by the registrar. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the registrar, which, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform the student of the date, place and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student’s expense. The Director will appoint the panel, which will adjudicate such challenges.
The decision of the hearing panel will be final. It will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and state the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The educational records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place within his or her educational records comments on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreement with the decision(s) of the hearing panel. The statement will be placed in the educational records and maintained as part of the student’s records. It will be released whenever the records in questions are disclosed.
A student who believes the adjudication of his or her challenge was unfair, or not in keeping with FERPA provisions, may request in writing assistance from the institute’s director (or designee). Students who believe their FERPA rights have been violated may also file complaints with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U. S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605 www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco.