FERPA Reminder for SF Faculty and Staff

February 7, 2018 – FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1974. It grants certain rights to a post-secondary student.  For example, students are entitled to:

  • see the education records that the institution maintains on the student.
  • seek amendment to those records, and in certain cases append a statement to the record.
  • know what the institution has designated as directory information that may be available to the public upon request
  • request directory information exclusion, which must be honored by the institution
  • know that school officials may access records if they have a legitimate educational interest in obtaining the information
  • file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office in Washington D.C. if they believe the college has violated FERPA

It’s Your Responsibility

You may not disclose non-directory, personally identifiable information from education records without an authorized release to persons other than the student in question or a college official who has a legitimate educational interest.  The authorized release must specify the records that will be released, state the reason for releasing the records, and identify the groups or individuals who will receive the records.  Note: You may not release directory information if the student has “opted out” (requested directory exclusion) unless you have an authorized release.

What do I do when communicating via email with…

Currently Enrolled Students (Students Active on eStaff)

Faculty and Staff should always use the students’ official Santa Fe College email account when communicating with students by email. If a student emails you from a non-Santa Fe College email account, you should reply to their Santa Fe College account. You can also send a reply to the non-Santa Fe College account alerting the student that you have sent the requested communication to the Santa Fe College account.

Faculty and Staff must always use their own Santa Fe College accounts when communicating with students by email.

 Former Students (Students on History in eStaff)

Former students who have rolled to history will not have a Santa Fe College email account.

When a former student requests a reference for a job or graduate school, first and foremost, you should do everything possible to ensure you are communicating with the actual person. This can include things like an in-person visit or a phone call to help ascertain this is truly the former student. Once you have done your due diligence and are confident you are indeed speaking to the proper person, ask the student to make the request in writing (email is fine) and to reference the conversation; the request should include the three requirements necessary for a student to authorize the release of records, including specifying the records that will be released, stating the reason for releasing the records, and identifying the groups or individuals who will receive the records. You may email the recommendation directly to the student, and please copy Mike Hutley in the Registrar’s office (and include the student’s written request) so that he can add the document to the former student’s record.

Prospective students:

Until prospective students complete the Santa Fe College application, they will not have an official SF email account. Staff members may communicate with the prospect via the person’s personal email.  At that time, there should be no education records on file to share, so there is little risk of violating FERPA.

Helpful Information:

For more information on the migration to Office 365 please go to the ITS FAQ page Student Email Migration to Office 365.

Learn more about FERPA regulations at Santa Fe College through the Office of the Registrar page.