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Student Educational Records: Rights to Access and Release

The Congress of the United States, on August 21, 1974, enacted into law the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This act sets out requirements of educational institutions designed to protect the privacy of students and their records. Specifically, the act governs access to education records maintained by educational institutions and the release of information contained in such records. Copies of the law as recorded in the Federal Register may be reviewed in the Registrar's Office. The following statements and policies govern the College's compliance with the provisions of the act.

The term "education records" means those records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information relating directly to a student and are maintained by the College or a person acting for the College. The term "education records" does not include:

  • Records of instruction, supervisory, or administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary thereto which are in the sole possession of and maker thereof and which are not accessible or revealed to any other person except as a substitute;
  • Records and documents of the University's Security Department which are kept apart and are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes and are not made available to persons other than law enforcement officials of the same jurisdiction;
  • Records on a student which are made or maintained by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other registered professional or paraprofessional acting in their professional or paraprofessional capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made, maintained, or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student, and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment, except that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.

A student's rights with respect to their educational records are as follows:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. Students should submit the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the College official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed. In the event the requested record includes information on more than one student, each student shall be entitled to review or be informed only of that part which pertains to themselves.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students requesting the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading must do so in writing to the College official responsible for maintaining the record. The written request should clearly identify the part of the record in question and specify why it is believed to be inaccurate or misleading.
  3. 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. One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interest. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or 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). A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Catawba College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:            

    Family Policy Compliance Office                  
    U.S. Department of Education                  
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW                  
    Washington, DC 20202-4605

FERPA does allow Catawba College to disclose educational records to parents of dependent students just as they would to the student. Dependent means a dependent pursuant to the definition under the IRS Code. Therefore, proof that a parent is including a student as a dependent under the federal tax laws will be required to disclose (without the student's permission) information to the parents of a student 18 years of age or older.

Catawba College hereby designates the following student information as public or "Directory Information". Such information may be disclosed by the institution for any purpose, at its discretion. However, generally this information is only shared with College officials on a need-to-know basis as defined in the Catawba College FERPA Policy Statement located in the Registrar's Office:

Name, Local and Permanent Address, Local and Permanent Telephone Number, Date and Place of Birth, Dates of Attendance, Major and Minor Fields of Study, Degree and Date Awarded, Academic Honors, Classification, e-mail address, photographs, and parents' names, religion, student schedule, student load. Athletic information about student participation in sports and data such as height and weight will be released to the media and published by appropriate College publications.

The College will not disclose information about students, other than "directory information" to people outside the College without the student's written consent, unless the disclosure is compelled by law, a court of law, an emergency, or some other extraordinary circumstance; is in conjunction with organized educational research; or is required by an accrediting agency. Exceptions to this policy may be made in individual cases with the permission of the Vice President and Dean of the College, provided that the exceptions are consistent with applicable law and are judged to be in the interest of the student's educational progress.

Currently enrolled students may direct the College to withhold disclosure of directory information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received in the Registrar's Office at Catawba College on or before the last day to add a class each semester. Catawba College assumes that failure on the part of any student to specifically request the withholding of "Directory Information" EACH SEMESTER he or she is enrolled indicates individual approval for disclosure.

Notification Policy 
The administration of Catawba College believes that the greatest opportunity for social and academic success exists when all members of the College community work together as a team to meet student needs. To this end, College administrators reserve the right to notify and inform such other College personnel who may have a significant relationship to a student of matters arising under the Student Conduct Code. Other personnel who may be notified include student advisors, professors, athletic director, coaches and/or other College administrators. The College further reserves the right to notify parents of students found to be in violation of the College policies regarding the possession or use of alcohol and other drugs. If a member of a College athletic team is issued a violation of the Alcohol or Drug Policy, the athletic director and/or coaches will also be notified.