4010 Privacy and Release of Student Educational Records | Wright Way Policy

4010.01 Introduction

  1. Wright State University has for many years regulated access to student educational records. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, sets forth requirements designed to limit the disclosure of student educational records. The law governs access to records maintained by educational institutions and the release of information from those records.

  2. This policy includes the regulations designed to explain the rights of a student with respect to records maintained by the university. In addition, this policy outlines the university's procedures to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

  3. Any member of the university community may review a copy of FERPA, the federal regulations adopted pursuant to it, as well as a copy of the annual notice provided to students. Copies of the documents are located in the Office of the Registrar. A digest version of FERPA is published in the student handbook and in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs.

4010.02 Definition of an Educational Record

An educational record is any record, file, document, or other material that contains information directly related to a student and that is maintained by any employee of the university. The following categories of information are not considered to be an educational record.

  1. Records created by university personnel that are in the sole possession of the maker, are not used for purposes other than a memory or reference tool, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person.

  2. Records maintained by the Wright State University Police Department for law enforcement purposes.

  3. Records created and maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional, professional in training, or paraprofessional acting in his/her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity or records maintained or used solely for the purpose of treatment or accommodation (e.g., records in the Office of Disability Services, the Center for Psychological Services, and Student Health Services).

  4. Records exclusively containing information about an individual after he/she no longer is a student (e.g., WSU Alumni Association records). Records of the individual, while a student, continue to be considered educational records.

4010.03 Release of an Educational Record Without Consent

The university may release information contained in an educational record, without prior consent, under the following circumstances:

  1. Requests from faculty and staff of Wright State University who have a legitimate educational interest on a "need to know" basis. This basis includes a student employee of the institution who may be authorized by the university to conduct official business. A legitimate educational interest includes performing a task related to the regular duties of the employee, the education of a student, the discipline of a student, a service or benefit for a student, or maintaining the safety and security of the campus.

  2. Requests in compliance with a lawful subpoena or judicial order upon the condition that a reasonable attempt to notify a student is made in advance of the compliance of the subpoena, unless specifically prohibited by the subpoena or judicial order.

  3. Requests in connection with a student's application for or receipt of financial aid, if the information is necessary for the purposes of determining eligibility for the aid, determining the amount of the aid, determining the conditions for the aid, and/or enforcing the terms and conditions of the aid.

  4. Requests by state authorities and agencies specifically exempted from the prior consent requirements of FERPA. Requests from organizations conducting studies on behalf of the university also are exempt, if such studies do not permit the personal identification of a student to any persons other than to representatives of such organizations and/or if the personal identification data is destroyed when no longer needed.

  5. Requests by accrediting organizations.

  6. Requests by the parents or legal guardian of a dependent student, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code describes dependency and taxpayer calendar issues. A copy of the previous year's tax return for the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may be required to verify dependency.

  7. Requests by appropriate persons to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons in an emergency situation.

  8. Requests for information in a case where a student, who is under twenty-one years of age (at the time of a parental notification), has committed a violation of law or university policy pertaining to drugs or alcohol.

  9. Requests for information in a case where a student is found responsible for a violation of the Wright State University Code of Student Conduct pertaining to an act of sexual or physical assault.

  10. Requests by authorized federal officials who have need to audit and evaluate federally supported programs.

  11. Requests for "public information" (refer to section 4010.4).

  12. Requests by officials of other institutions in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, provided the university gives the eligible parent(s) or legal guardian(s) or eligible student an opportunity to request a copy of such record and an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the record.

Note:  Degrees (any honors, majors, minors, and specializations) are considered public information (refer to section 4010.4), since they are conferred in a public ceremony.  Additionally, the university reserves the right to verify the accuracy of any information contained in what is presented as an official university document (e.g., a transcript or diploma) or as provided to a third party.  

4010.04 Public Information

  1. Wright State University, in accordance with FERPA, has designated the following information about a student as public information:

    1. A student's name

    2. All addresses of a student, including e-mail addresses

    3. Telephone listings

    4. Major field of study

    5. Number of hours registered

    6. Full-time or part-time status

    7. Class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, or professional)

    8. Dates of attendance

    9. Degrees awarded and total hours earned

    10. Special honors and awards

    11. Most recent previous educational agency or institution

    12. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports

    13. Weight and height of members of athletic teams

  2. Information identified as public information will be released without a student's consent. However, a student has the right to have public information withheld if he/she so desires. A student who wants public information withheld (including items to be published in a student directory) shall so indicate by completing a "Request to Prevent Release of Public Information" form, which can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar. A student should allow at least ten business days for processing the request.

  3. Each fall quarter, the university publishes a telephone directory that is made public. The directory contains the name, home and local addresses, e-mail address, and local telephone listings of students. If a student wishes to withhold this information from the directory, he/she must notify the Office of the Registrar [as described in paragraph 4010.4 b)] no later than the first Friday after the start of the fall quarter. Because the directory is published only once a year, a request made after the first Friday of the fall quarter (or in the subsequent academic year quarters) to change a student's information release status will not be reflected in the printed directory. However, changes will be applied to the Student Information System and will affect disclosures from it.

4010.05 Consent for Release of an Educational Record

A student who wishes to have information released must submit a written request to the director of the appropriate department/school/college that maintains the record. The student must list in the request the specific information he/she wishes to release and the name of the individual(s) to receive the information.

4010.06 Procedures for Review of an Educational Record

  1. All records that pertain to a student and that are maintained in university offices are official university records and, as such, remain the property of the university. Each university unit has an obligation to keep a record of requests and disclosures of student information, except when a request is from the student, from a university official who has a legitimate educational interest, or from someone requesting directory information. A student has the right to review the record of requests and disclosures pertaining to him/her.

  2. A written request to review records must be made separately to each university unit that maintains records. The unit has 15 days to respond to a request to review and inspect a student's record. However, the unit will make arrangements as expeditiously as possible. In the event that a student's only access to his/her records is through mailing such records, a fee may be charged, unless the student can prove that the fee effectively prevents him/her or an eligible parent/legal guardian from exercising his/her rights.

  3. Information contained in an educational record will be fully explained and interpreted to a student by university personnel assigned to and designated by the unit holding the record. A student has the right to review only his/her own records. When a record contains information about more than one student, disclosure cannot include information about the other student(s).

4010.07 Exceptions to Right to Review an Educational Record

A student is granted the right to inspect and review all of his/her educational records, except for the following types of documents:

  1. Financial records of parents

  2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in educational records prior to January 1, 1975

  3. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation for admission, employment, or honorary recognition placed in educational records after January 1, 1975, for which the student has waived his/her right of access (refer to section 4010.8)

4010.08 Waiver of Right to Review an Educational Record

A student may waive his/her right of access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation. Even if a student signs a waiver, the names of all persons making confidential recommendations will be made available upon request. The university may not require a student to waive his/her right of access for receipt of university benefits or services.

4010.09 Right to Challenge an Educational Record

A student has the right to challenge the content of his/her educational record if the student considers the information contained therein to be inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate. The process of challenging an educational record includes an opportunity for amendment of the record or insertion of a written explanation(s) by the student into such record (refer to section 4010.10 for procedures).

Note: The right to challenge a grade does not apply under FERPA, unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded. Under that condition, the record will be corrected.

4010.10 Procedures for Challenging Information in an Educational Record

  1. A student who wishes to challenge information in his/her educational record must submit a written request for a hearing to the director of the appropriate department/school/college that maintains the record. The request must list the specific information in question and the reason(s) for the challenge.

  2. The director of the university unit will notify the Office of the Registrar when a student has submitted a request for a hearing. The Office of the Registrar will convene a panel to conduct the hearing. The panel, which is chaired by the assistant registrar, will consist of three university staff members who have no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.

  3. The student who has requested the hearing will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the reason(s) for the challenge.

  4. The panel will render a written decision within a reasonable period of time, noting the reason(s) for its decision and summarizing all evidence presented. Should the decision of the hearing panel, by majority vote of the three panel members, find in favor of the student's challenge, the record shall be amended accordingly.

  5. The School of Medicine and the School of Professional Psychology have separate procedures for challenging and adjudicating record disputes. A student who wishes to submit a challenge should consult the handbook of the specific school for additional information.

4010.11 Appeal of Hearing Decision

  1. In the event that the hearing panel denies a student's request to change information within his/her record, the student may make an appeal. The appeal shall be in writing and be submitted to the assistant registrar within ten business days of the hearing decision. An appeals panel consisting of three senior university officials shall hear the appeal. The officials are to be individuals who have no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. A written decision by the panel will be rendered to the student within a reasonable period of time. Should the appeal be in favor of the student, the record shall be amended accordingly.

  2. In the event that the panel denies the appeal, the student may choose to place a statement with his/her record commenting on the accuracy of the information in the record and/or setting forth any basis for inaccuracy. If the record is disclosed to an authorized party, the record will always include the student's statement and notice of the decision rendered by the appeals panel. This procedure will be followed as long as the university maintains the student's educational record. An individual can obtain additional information regarding appeal hearings from the Office of the Registrar.

4010.12 Concerns or Suggestions

A student who has a concern or suggestion regarding this policy should contact the Office of the Registrar. If a student has reason to believe that the university is not complying with FERPA or university policy, he/she has the right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education by contacting:

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

4010.13 Location of Student Educational Records

Wright State University does not maintain educational records in one central office. Educational records are maintained in a custodial capacity in the various departments, schools, or colleges of the university. A student should contact the Office of the Registrar for information and guidance in determining which unit(s) a student should contact about an educational record.