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FERPA Guidelines

St. John Fisher College complies fully with the Family Educational Rights of Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student's educational records. It provides guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student information.

Record Custody, FERPA, and You!

The Registrar's Office is the designated official custodian of the academic record of a student but every advisor and faculty member has records and therefore is a custodian.

A student can challenge a grade for one calendar year after the end of the semester in which the contested grade was earned.

You should keep all materials related to grading for a minimum of one calendar year from the end of each term.

A student may be able to subpoena your advising notes.

You should write all of your notes in a professional, objective tone listing only the facts and refraining from any pejorative statements. Everything you write and place in the student's official advising folder is an educational record and could be subpoenaed. The only exception is a sole possession record that you keep in one of your locked drawers or cabinets and to which no other person has access. A shared advising folder is an educational record even if stored in your office under a lock and key.

A School or department keeps its own advising records under lock and key.

As long as these records are shared they are education records which can be subpoenaed. Like all educational records, the student has the right to inspect these records.

In cleaning your office, you toss all your old student related notes and files in the recycle bin.

Never toss anything related to a student in the trash or recycle bin! Any piece of paper with personally identifiable information about a student must be shredded; you are responsible for seeing that it is shredded or deposited in a secure bin for shredding. If your department or School keeps advising/student folders, the department or School must have a Records Retention Policy and adhere to it.

Tips to Avoid the Campus FERPA Enforcer

  • Do not take attendance by passing around your class roster printed from Fish 'R' Net.
  • Do not leave graded assignments in the hallway for students to pick up.
  • Do not discuss a student’s performance in class with a parent who just stops by during your office hours or calls with a concern.
  • Do not post grades outside your office or give grades over the phone.
  • Do not send any personally identifiable information or grades to students via email.
  • Do not use an email address other than the account to contact students.
  • Do not share your advising notes, a web transcript, or a degree evaluation with other faculty members, even those in your department or program.
  • Do not respond to outside requests for specific information about your students, the students in your major or program, or the students in the College. Refer all requests to the director of marketing and communications.
  • Do not use the student name or ID in the subject line of an email to other College personnel.
  • And the best way to avoid FERPA problems and a visit from the campus FERPA enforcer is simply to think about student information as your information and protect it the very same way you would want your personal information treated.

More Information on FERPA

For more information, refer to Education Records and FERPA in the undergraduate catalog.