Notice to Students of Privacy Rights
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.
Central Washington University (CWU) 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 university 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, CWU does not release information from student education records to parents without the written consent of students.
FERPA permits the university 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 university concludes with respect to that allegation that the student has violated university rules, the university may release to the public the name of the student, the offense committed, and the sanction the university 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 university. When education records are released for research purposes, FERPA requires the university 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. Central Washington University 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 CWU 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, Advising, Career Services, Financial Aid, Housing and New Student Programs, 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, university and permanent home address and telephone number, a photograph, dates of attendance, class, major fields of study, previous institutions attended, awards and honors (including honor roll), degrees conferred (including dates), participation in officially recognized sports and activities, and heights and weights of members of athletic teams. Students may stipulate the withholding of their directory information by selecting the check box on the FERPA privacy page located on Safari (the university’s student information system). To navigate to the FERPA page you may use the following navigation path: Self Service > Campus Personal Information > Privacy Settings > FERPA/Directory Restrictions. If you do not have an active Safari account or do not have access to a computer, you may withhold directory information by notifying Registrar Services, CWU, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA, 98926-7465. Notification must be made in writing anytime during the academic year. The university will honor the requests until the student notifies Registrar Services to change it.
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 university’s vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management 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 Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management 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). These copies can be made at the student’s expense, at the prevailing rates listed by Registrar Services.
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 with the exception of records created by the university police for the purpose of law enforcement, student health records that are created and used solely in connection with the provision of health care may be reviewed by physicians of the students choosing, 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 university; they do not govern records of applicants who are denied admission or who choose not to attend the university. Nor do they govern records kept by a university 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 FREPA: 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. The university is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purpose for which they were collected.
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 vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management (or the vice president’s designee). 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 vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management (or the vice president’s designee) of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, 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 vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management 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 adjudications of his or her challenge was unfair, or not in keeping with FERPA provisions, may request in writing assistance from the university’s president (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.