Instructions to Faculty and Staff
Who Can Release Student Information?
If you have access to student data, you are responsible for its proper handling. No matter what the form or content, you are accountable for handling student records in accordance with the law and University policy.
FERPA requires that anyone accessing private student records have a "legitimate educational interest" for the information. Examples include:
- Performing a task that is specified in his/her position description or contract
- Performing a task related to a student's education or to student discipline
- Maintaining safety and security on campus
Obligation to Release Record Information
An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only says that an institution MAY release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information, contact the Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance and the University Director of Privacy.
The privacy rights of a student expire with that student's death.
Students who perform institutional functions may be deemed "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" in accessing designated educational records of other students. The same requirements and responsibilities for a full time school official exist for student workers. Student workers must be trained on FERPA just as if they were faculty or staff.
All subpoenas are first reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel to determine the appropriate course of action.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, the University may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors considered in making this assessment include, but are not limited to: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.
It is a violation of FERPA to publically post grades either by the student's name, student identification number or social security number. Instructors can assign students unique numbers or codes that can be used to post grades. However, the order of the posting must not be alphabetic.
Leaving personally identifiable, graded papers unattended for students to view is no different from posting grades in the hallway. If these papers contain "personally identifiable" information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA. Therefore, consider leavingthe graded papers (exams, quizzes, and homework) with an assistant or secretary who would ask students for proper identification prior to distributing them.
All Rutgers University students, staff, and instructors are assigned a university managed email account to be utilized for purposes of official correspondence. Instructors may notify students of their individual grades via email, provided the email is sent from a University email account, to a University email account. Notification of grades may also be made via the use of a course management website. Students must access their grades after providing their RU NetID and password.
Access to Other Student Records
Instructors are considered "school officials" and have access to class rosters and basic information for students enrolled in their classes. Instructors may not access other student academic records without demonstrating a "legitimate educational interest" in such information.
Parents Requesting Information
Student educational record information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access to it unless the student has completed the FERPA release form that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s).
Letters of Recommendation
Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the "education record" (grades, GPA and other non-directory information).