Education Records Policy
Brandeis University Education Records: Statement of Policy and Procedures
Brandeis University seeks to maintain all education records in its care in full compliance with federal and state law, and in a spirit consistent with its educational philosophy that students are full partners in the educational enterprise. As such, students have rights of confidentiality, and the responsibility to exercise those rights to ensure that their education records are accurate and complete. The officials of the University who are custodians of education records, in turn, have the responsibility to understand fully and implement with care the policies and procedures governing education records.
The policy and procedures contained herein are designed to meet the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (FERPA). Brandeis University is committed to their enforcement. In the case of any conflict between the provisions of FERPA and the terms of this policy, the provisions of FERPA shall in all events control.
Directory information means the information described in section III. B. below.
Disclosure means access to or the release, transfer or other communication of personally identifiable information contained in education records, orally, in writing, by electronic means, or by any other means to any party.
Education records means those records that are (1) directly related to a student, and (2) maintained by the University or by a party acting for the University. The term "education record" does not include:
- records of instructional, supervisory, administrative, and certain educational personnel that are in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a substitute who performs on a temporary basis the duties of the individual who made the records.
- records of a law enforcement unit that are created by the unit for a law enforcement purpose and maintained by the unit.
- records maintained and used exclusively in relationship to an individual in his or her capacity as an employee of the University. (However, those records that pertain to individuals who are employed as a result of their status as students are education records.)
- records of health services provided to students, including those of the Psychological Counseling Center, that are maintained in connection with treatment and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment. Under FERPA such records may be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate health professional of the student's choice.
- records that contain only information relating to an individual after that individual is no longer a student at Brandeis.
FERPA means the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended.
Legitimate Educational Interest means that review of education records is necessary to the maintenance of the academic enterprise and/or to a school official's capacity to act responsibly in the student's educational interest.
Parent means either parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a student's parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.
Record means any information, maintained in any way, including but not limited to handwriting, computer media, print, video or audiotape, film, microfilm and microfiche.
School Official means an individual employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position; an individual or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, the National Student Loan Clearinghouse or a collection agent); an individual serving on the Board of Trustees; a former or emeritus/a faculty member; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
Student means any individual who is or has been in attendance at Brandeis University, and regarding whom the institution maintains education records. It does not include applicants for admission who are not accepted or do not attend. Individuals who have been enrolled in one unit (e.g., the undergraduate program) who apply for admission to a second unit (e.g., a graduate program) have no right to inspect the records accumulated by the second unit until and unless enrolled therein.
- To inspect and review information contained in education records within forty-five (45) days of the day the University receives a written request for access.
- To request amendment of such records through informal and formal means, if the student believes that such records are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights.
- To exercise some control over the disclosure to third parties of information contained in education records (see section IV).
- To file complaints alleging institutional non-compliance with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the Department of Education.
A. Notification of Students' Rights. Each year in the Brandeis University Bulletin, the University informs students of their rights under FERPA. This notification summarizes the objectives of the Act. Questions concerning FERPA and this policy may be referred to the Office of the University Registrar.
B. Public Notice Designating Directory Information. Each year in the University Bulletin, the University designates certain categories of student information as public or "directory information". Such information may be disclosed by the University for any purpose, at its discretion.
Category I: Name, local addresses (including electronic address) and telephone number, home address and telephone number, date of birth, full-time/part-time status, class (i.e., first year, sophomore, etc.), photograph, and digital likeness.
Category II: Dates of attendance and field of concentration at Brandeis, previous institution(s) attended and major field of study, awards and honors (including Dean's List status), degree(s) conferred, and date(s) conferred.
Category III: Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors (height and weight of athletes).
Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of any category of information under FERPA. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received by the Office of the University Registrar by July 15 for the succeeding academic year. Forms requesting the withholding of such information are available at the Office of the University Registrar and on its website.
The names of students who withhold disclosure of Category I information will not appear in the student directory published annually by the University. The University assumes that failure on the part of any student to specifically request the withholding of information indicates individual approval for disclosure.
- Access to Information Within the University. School officials have access to records in which they have a legitimate educational interest.
- Conditions Governing Disclosure of Information to Parties Outside the University. While FERPA does not require the University to disclose information to third parties (although certain state and federal authorities may legally require disclosure), it does establish conditions for such disclosures. Brandeis University will not disclose to parties outside the University personally identifiable information maintained in education records without the prior written consent of the student, except in the circumstances described in section C. below. Such written consent shall be signed and dated, shall specify the records to be released, the purposes of the disclosure, and the parties or class of parties to whom the disclosure is to be made. The University may accept signed and dated consent in electronic form, in compliance with the applicable provisions of FERPA. The University will inform the recipients of such disclosures that they are not at liberty to release the information to others without written consent of the student; if such outside parties redisclose such materials, the University will not make further disclosures to them for at least five (5) years.
The University will maintain records of requests for disclosure, whether granted or not, in such instances as are required by law. (Records of requests for disclosure are not required and will not be kept for requests made by students for their own use; for requests involving the written consent of the student; for requests from school officials with a legitimate educational interest; for those requests involving data designated as directory information; and in the case of certain subpoenas.) Such records of requests for disclosures will contain the names and addresses of the individual(s) requesting information and their legitimate interests in the information. These records will themselves become part of the student's education records, and will be maintained as long as the record to which they refer is maintained.
- Disclosure of Information Without the Written Consent of Students. The University may disclose to parties outside the University personally identifiable information maintained in education records without the written consent of the student under the following circumstances:
- to maintain a student directory (see section III.B. above).
- to parents of a dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Section 152, unless a court order, state statute or legally binding document that revokes parental rights has been provided to Brandeis. All students shall be asked by the University on an annual basis if they should be considered dependent or independent. Undergraduates who wish to establish their independent status must annually supply a statement to that effect, notarized and under oath, to the Office of the University Registrar on or before the final day for fall term registration at Brandeis. Only upon prior written consent, or as required by law, will the records of an independent student be disclosed to his or her parents.
- to a parent or legal guardian, information regarding any violation of any federal, state or local law, or of any Brandeis rule or policy, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, if the student is under the age of twenty-one and Brandeis has determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to such use or possession, unless such disclosure is prohibited by state law.
- to officials of other institutions in which a student seeks to enroll, upon the request of those officials.
- to individuals or organizations providing or considering providing financial aid to a student, or determining aid decisions concerning eligibility, amount, conditions and enforcement of the terms of said aid.
- to certain designated local, state and federal officials involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs.
- to accrediting agencies.
- to organizations carrying out studies for federal, state or other authorized education agencies and institutions, provided said agencies and institutions do not subsequently publish or otherwise disclose such information in ways which are personally identifiable and the information is destroyed at the conclusion of the studies.
- to a court of law or to a regulatory agency in which the University or the student initiates legal action against the other.
- to individuals in compliance with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, provided that a reasonable attempt is made to notify the student of such disclosure in advance, except as follows. The University is not required to notify a student before complying with a federal grand jury subpoena or subpoenas issued for a law enforcement purpose when the court or other issuing agency orders the University not to disclose the existence or contents of the subpoena.
- to appropriate parties in the event of an emergency when the information thus disclosed is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or others.
- to certain state and local officials, pursuant to a state statute that allows the disclosure in connection with a juvenile justice system. Such disclosure must relate to the system's ability to effectively serve, prior to adjudication, the student(s) whose records are being released.
- to teachers and officials at other educational institutions who have a legitimate educational interest in the behavior of a student, records of disciplinary actions taken against him or her for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety or well-being of himself or herself, other students, or other members of the campus community.
- to victims of certain crimes of violence, the results of disciplinary hearings.
- to the Attorney General, pursuant to an ex parte order, education records that are relevant to an authorized investigation or prosecution of a terrorist offense, as described in 20 U.S.C. 1232g(j).
- to students themselves, their own education records.
- to other individuals and/or entities as permitted under FERPA.
- Disclosure of Directory Information With Respect to Former Students. Education records concerning students who have received degrees or are otherwise no longer enrolled at Brandeis are released in accordance with the directory information disclosure provisions selected by the student in his or her final semester.
- Limitation of Inspection and Review of Education Records. Students may inspect and review any education record pertaining to them, with the following exceptions: financial statements submitted by parents; letters of recommendation and other confidential statements written before January 1, 1975; records to which they have waived access; and records containing information about more than one student. In the latter instance, a student may inspect only that part of the record which relates to him or her.
- Policies Governing Waivers. Students may waive their inspection and review rights under FERPA and this policy, but only with respect to such documents as they specify in writing. The University does not require such waivers for admission, nor will it deny services or benefits to students who do not supply them. However, documents to which students have waived their right of access will not be available to them for inspection and review so long as the documents are used for the purposes for which they were solicited.
- Letters of Recommendation. All Brandeis offices soliciting letters of recommendation on behalf of students or of the University shall indicate on their recommendation forms that under the provisions of FERPA the student to whom the letter applies has the right of access to it, unless he or she has explicitly waived such right on the recommendation form. Such waivers must be signed and dated, and retained as part of the education record. Students may revoke a waiver in writing, but in so doing do not regain the right to inspect and review documents collected while the waiver was in effect.
- Policies Governing Inspection and Review of Records. Each Brandeis office maintaining education records shall devise its own procedures and practices regarding their inspection and review, consistent with the following conditions:
- Students must be allowed to see their records within a reasonable time after requesting to do so, and in all instances within forty-five (45) days of the request. Offices may schedule record viewing at their convenience within these constraints.
- A qualified official shall be present during such inspection, and shall provide interpretation and explanation as appropriate.
- Under normal circumstances, each office may, if the student so requests, make a photocopy of any document contained in his or her education record and provide it to him or her. A reasonable fee shall be charged. (Established fee schedules related to requests for official transcripts and other such documents are not affected by this provision.) An office must make a copy of an education record when failure to do so would effectively deny the student the opportunity to inspect and review it. An office may refuse a request for a copy of a document, consistent with institutional policy or practice, when the student's right to inspect and review is not impaired thereby.
- Procedures for Challenging the Accuracy of Education Records. Students who wish to contest the accuracy of any information in their education records may seek to correct it through the responsible official in the relevant office. Should satisfaction not be obtained in this way, the student may petition the appropriate University official in writing for the correction of the record or the removal of the disputed materials. Should the University official be unable to resolve the matter to the student's satisfaction, the student may make a formal written request for a hearing to be conducted by an impartial member of the Brandeis University community appointed by the appropriate University official. The hearing will be conducted within a reasonable time and in accordance with procedures consistent with FERPA. The appointed Brandeis community member will make his or her recommendations, based only on materials presented at the hearing, to the President or his or her duly authorized designee. The President, or his or her designee, will make the final decision on the basis of the evidence and report submitted to him or her by the appointed Brandeis community member, and will prepare a written finding including a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision. If the decision is in favor of the student, the record will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, he or she may prepare a statement to itself become part of the education record, to be maintained so long as the record to which it refers is maintained, and to be disclosed with the record in all subsequent disclosures.
The right to challenge the accuracy of education records extends only to records which are alleged to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights. It does not extend to questions of substantive educational judgment that are correctly recorded, such as course grades.
- Records Retention. The University reserves the right to purge and otherwise destroy records in accordance with its policies and consistent with state and federal law. Under the terms of FERPA, the University will not destroy education records for which a request for inspection is pending.
Individuals with legal standing may file complaints with the Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Brandeis University to comply with FERPA. Written complaints should be directed to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605.
Office of the University Registrar Adopted August 1985 Amended April 1992, June 1997, May 2004