FERPA

FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA) POLICY


Mercy College's Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Policy is designed to inform students of their rights and responsibilities pertaining to their college records, in compliance with federal notification requirements. To protect the privacy of student records. To articulate definitions relating to student records, how they may be accessed and disclosed, the complaint procedure and other information relevant to the student record.

ADDITIONAL FERPA DETAILS


Scope and Applicability

College employees (faculty, staff and student employees) and other covered individuals (e.g., affiliates, vendors, independent contractors, etc.) in their accessing and handling of student records, data or information in any form (paper, digital text, image, audio, video, microfilm, etc.) during the course of conducting College business (administrative, financial, teaching, research or service). This policy shall apply to all offices and divisions of Mercy College of Health Sciences and to all current or former students of the College.

Policy Statement

The following constitutes College policy concerning student rights of access to personal educational records in compliance with the FERPA. Certain definitions and principles contained in the law and guidelines are as follows:

  • A student is defined as one who has attended, or is attending, Mercy College of Health Sciences and whose records are in the files of the college. Attendance is defined as the date of first enrollment at the College or participation in a college-sponsored program or activity, whichever occurs earlier.
  • Educational records do not include files retained by individuals that are not accessible to any other person except a designee or replacement.
  • Directory (public) information is limited to name, local and home address and telephone, email address, college, class, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status, anticipated graduation date, degrees and awards received, the most recent educational institution attended and a photograph of a student taken for college purposes. Directory (public) information also includes class rosters listing students in College academic courses (Desire to Learn); such rosters may only be used for the purpose of conducting that course.
  • Record means any information or data recorded in any medium, including but not limited to handwriting, print, tapes, computer files, microfilm or microfiche.

Release of Directory Information

Directory information may be released unless the student files the appropriate form in the Registrar’sOffice requesting that directory information not be released. Directory information that cannot be restricted includes whether the individual was ever enrolled and degrees awarded.

Release of Grades

Reports of a student’s grades are not routinely mailed. Students may access their grades electronically on MyMercy website. The posting of a student’s grades must be done in a manner designed to maintain confidentiality. Grades or evaluations linked to personal identifiers (names, College ID numbers, or social security numbers) may not be publicly disclosed without specific permission from the student. Grades or evaluations may only be posted on office doors or on websites by using randomly generated codes or numbers.

Record Storage

Students have records in one or more of the following offices:

  • Registrar’s Office
  • Financial Aid
  • Student Accounts
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • Division of Enrollment Management
  • Human Resources (Federal Work Study)

Record Access and Exceptions

A student’s record is open to the student, except as listed below. Any reference to student records or to access to student records in this document is subject to these exceptions:

  • Confidential letters of recommendation placed in files before January 1, 1975.
  • Financial records of the student’s parents or any information contained therein.
  • Employment records, except for those cases in which the employment is required as part of the student’s program.
  • Medical and psychological records.
  • Letters of recommendation or other documents that carry a waiver of the student’s right to access.
  • Records compiled by campus security solely for the purposes of law enforcement.
  • Student education records are open to college officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information contained in the records.
  • A college official is an employee or other agent of the college. A college official may also be a person or company with whom the college has contracted to carry out a function on the college’s behalf.
  • The determination of a legitimate educational interest will be made by the person responsible for the maintenance of the record. This determination will be made scrupulously and with respect for the individual whose records are involved. A legitimate educational interest requires that the individual seeking access must have the requested information to perform a job function.

Conditions of Access Waivers for Student References

To ensure the confidentiality of references, certain documents may carry waivers signed by the student relinquishing the right of access to the document. Waivers are subject to the following conditions:

  • Waivers can be signed only for the specific purposes of application for admission, candidacy for honor or honorary recognition and candidacy for employment.

  • Waivers cannot be required
  • The student shall be told, upon request, the names of those supplying references.
  • All items in the academic record not covered by waivers are open to the student.
  • Material not covered by waivers may not be protected by keeping it out of the student’s file.

Third-Party Access

  • Normally, records can be released, or access given, to third parties (i.e., anyone not a member of the faculty or staff), only with the written consent of the student.
  • Without the consent of the student, releases to third parties may be given only as follows:
  • To federal officers as prescribed by law
  • As required by state law
  • To research projects on behalf of educational agencies, providing that the agencies guarantee no personal identification of students
  • To accrediting agencies carrying out their functions
  • In response to a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  • By Campus Security to other law enforcement agencies in the investigation of a specific criminal case
  • To parents of students who are dependents as defined and verified by IRS standards
  • A student’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) regarding the student’s use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if there has been a determination by the university that the student’s use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance constitutes a violation of a university rule or regulation; and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure to the parent(s) or legal guardian(s)
  • A student’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) in connection with an emergency
  • To appropriate persons if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons

Continued Record Maintenance

Nothing in this College FERPA policy requires the continued maintenance of any student record. However, if under the terms of this policy a student has requested access to the record, no destruction of the record shall be made before access has been granted to the student.

Records of Deceased Students

FERPA rights cease upon death. However, it is the policy of College that no records of deceased students be released after the date of death, unless specifically authorized by the executor of thedeceased’s estate, by the next of kin or as stipulated in the Record Access and Exceptions section of this policy.

Record Correction Requests

Students have the right to ask to have records corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their privacy rights. The procedures are as follows:

  • The student must ask the custodian of the record to amend the record. The student should identify the part of the record that the student wants changed and the reasons.
  • Mercy College of Health Sciences may comply or may decide not to comply with the request. If not, the College will inform the student of the decision and advise the student of the right to a hearing. Requests for a hearing are to be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Upon request, the College will arrange for a hearing and so notify the student.
  • The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party. However, the officer may be an official of the institution. The student may be assisted by one or more individuals.
  • The College will prepare a written decision based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.
  • If the College decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student’s right to privacy, it will notify the student that they have a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information or set forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision.
  • The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s record as long as the contested portion is maintained. If the College discloses the contested portion of the record, it must also disclose the statement.
  • If the College decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student’s right of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the student in writing that the record has been amended.

Creation, Permanence and Disposal of Student Records

  • The following is a general guideline regarding the disposal of student records:
  • Only such records as are demonstrably and substantially relevant to the
  • educational purposes of the university shall be generated or maintained;
  • Permanent retention of student records is limited to those records which are of long-range value to the individual or the university;
  • All duplicate copies of permanent records, other than those maintained by the custodian of the permanent records shall be maintained only for the minimum period of time required to serve the basic official function of the individual or department generating or maintaining them. Such records shall be destroyed as soon as they are no longer needed (i.e., within one year following graduation or two years after the last date of attendance). A student will be granted access to their records prior to their destruction when the student has an unsatisfied request outstanding.

Directory Information

In compliance with the federally-enacted regulations and College policies, directory information regarding students attending Mercy College of Health Sciences shall be the:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Telephone number

  • Student email address

  • Photograph

  • Date and place of birth

  • Major field of study

  • Dates of attendance

  • Grade level (i.e. freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior)

  • Degrees, honors and awards (Dean/President Lists and Graduation)

  • Most recent previous educational institution attended

  • Participation in College activities

Public information pertaining to any individual student may be released by the Registrar upon inquiry unless the student has not agreed to release directory information. Partial or whole lists of students by name and address will not be released for commercial purposes.

Each major administrative unit shall define the kinds of reports and information that may be released to the public.

Information contained in personal files of the student is considered confidential information. With the exception of the information noted above, all student records are considered to be confidential and are open only to College personnel (individuals under contract) who need the information to carry out their official responsibilities (assigned duties and functions).

Although College personnel are authorized access to this information on a “need-to-know” basis (to perform specific duties and functions), they are not permitted to release information to persons outside the College unless authorized in writing by the student, by a court order or according to the exceptions listed in the Record Access and Exceptions section.

Only the official or designated person responsible for the records has the authority to release them. Records may be disclosed to a third party only on condition that the recipient will not permit others to have access to the information without the written consent of the student.

Rights of Access and Review of Records

Students have the right to inspect, review or receive an interpretation of copies of their educational records, except as excluded below. This right may be exercised by completing a written request to access the records. Such requests should be honored as quickly as possible and reasonable, normally within 48 hours; if detailed documentation and/or interpretation are required, the request should be honored within ten days. In all cases, requests for such information must be honored within 45 days.

If a copy(ies) of a portion or all of the records in a student’s file is requested, the custodian of the records may charge a fee for copies made, provided the fee does not effectively prevent students from exercising their right to inspect and review (under supervision of a university employee) their records. No fee will be charged to the student to search for or to retrieve records. Each custodian of records is responsible for requiring proper identification of the individual making the request about their records.

Custodians of Student Records

The Office of the Registrar shall be responsible for the proposal, interpretation, enforcement and publication of general policies and procedures consistent with state and federal laws and guidelines as they relate to the creation, maintenance, use, dissemination and destruction of records of students who are attending or have attended Mercy College of Health Sciences and shall coordinate the development of general policies and procedures with the appropriate university officials listed below.

Each type of student record is the responsibility of a designated university official and only that professional staff member or designate has authority to release records. Please note that some student records listed below are outside the scope of the Office of the Registrar. The responsible officials are:

  • Academic and Admissions Records (after matriculation) o Official: Registrar
    • Location: Office of the Registrar
  • Admissions Records (prior to matriculation)
    • Official: Director for Admissions
    • Location: Division of Enrollment Management
  • Alumni Records
    • Official: Manager of Alumni Affairs
    • Location: Office of Alumni Affairs
  • Disciplinary Records
    • Official: Dean for Student Affairs
    • Location: Division of Student Affairs
  • Employment (Work-Study and Student Employment)
    • Official: Vice President of Human Resources
    • Location: Human Resources
  • Student Financial Services (Financial Aid and Student Accounts)
    • Official: Director of Financial Aid Services
    • Location: Office of Student Financial Aid
  • Security Records
    • Official: Vice President of Business and Regulatory Affairs
    • Location: Office of the Department of Business and Regulatory Affairs
  • Veterans Records
    • Official: Registrar
    • Location: Registrar’s Office
  • Student Activities
    • Official: Director of Student Engagement
    • Location: Office of Student Engagement

Special Considerations for Faculty for Protecting Student Information in the Online Course Environment

The FERPA policy for online and blended courses typically includes areas of focus and details regarding the protection of student information and also the information that is shared between an instructor and student as part of the online course.

  • Faculty teaching online courses for the College will use the institutional Learning Management System (LMS) for delivery of the course to ensure the security of student work and grades.

  • Faculty teaching online courses for the College will use the College’s secure online system for electronically submitting grades to the Registrar.
  • All emails between the instructor and students in an online course need to occur through the LMS or via the College email system so that communications between the instructor and student, e.g., grades, feedback on student work, etc., remain confidential and protected by the College.
  • LMS account information must be kept secure by faculty and students enrolled in online courses. Students in a course cannot access other students' work or grades. Faculty and students cannot share their personal LMS login information with anyone or give access to the course in the LMS to others who are not officially enrolled in the course. Exceptions are allowed for other College faculty and administration to access a course when the appropriate justification is provided and approved.
  • Faculty teaching in the online environment will follow all College FERPA guidelines for sharing educational record information with other College faculty and staff and others outside the College.
  • During the online course and once it is archived, all student information is protected including course data and participation.

Complaint Procedure

If a student believes the College is not in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), he/she should check first with the office involved and/or the Vice President of Student Affairs.

If a student wishes to file a complaint with the federal government concerning the College’s failure to comply with FERPA, they must submit the complaint, in writing, to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920 (www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html). The Family Policy Compliance Office will notify the student and the College when the complaint has been received. They will investigate the complaint and may require further information. Following its investigation, they will provide written notification of its findings and basis for such findings. In the event the College is found not to be in compliance, it will be afforded the necessary time to comply. If it does not then comply, additional action may be taken by the Family Policy Compliance Office. For guidelines concerning this complaint procedure, see 34 CFR Paragraph and the subsequent regulations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances

Faculty, staff and/or student employees who violate this College policy may be subject to disciplinary action for misconduct and/or performance based on the administrative process appropriate to their employment.

Students who violate this College policy may be subject to proceedings for non-academic misconduct based upon their student status. Faculty, staff, student employees and/or students may also be subject to the discontinuance of specified information technology services based on the policy violation.

Contact:

Office of the Registrar
Mercy College of Health Sciences
(515) 643-6744
registrar@mchs.edu

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