FERPA and Confidentiality

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) restricts the manner in which confidential records are handled.  There is some information about students that is generally considered public (student’s name, address, telephone listing, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletes, dates of attendance, school or division of enrollment, degrees and awards received).  All other information about a student must be kept confidential; this is something you are legally responsible for. The most common situation that we encounter is parents requesting information about how their child is doing in your class.  You cannot share that information with them, so politely tell them so and refer them to the Dean with questions.

Students are able to request that all information be kept confidential, and these students will be flagged for you in your course roster.   

In this digital age, there can be confusion about what technology can be used to communicate with students privately.  You may email students information about their course performance via their Linn-Benton email (the email listed on your course roster).  You should not email them private information using another email account.  If a student gives you a private telephone number to reach them, you may call them at that number and leave a message.

Please do not leave assignments in a public place to be picked up by students.  The only exception is non-graded assignments that do not include personal information about the student (beyond the directory information listed above).  If you really want to post grades publicly or leave graded assignments to be picked up, you must use a random identifier rather than the students’ name.  See below for more suggestions on how to return assignments to students.