Office of the Registrar
West Chester University
Kershner Student Service Center
25 University Avenue
West Chester, PA, 19383
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, is a federal law which states (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
West Chester University accords all rights under the law to students who are in attendance at the University, and in certain instances to the parents of dependent students, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. Basically, a dependent student is a student whose parent(s) provides more than half of his/her support. Generally, the University does not provide information to parents because of this act. However, exceptions are made if:
No one outside the institution shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose, any information from students' education records without the students' written consent except to personnel within the institution who have an educational need, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, a valid subpoena, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the act. Within the West Chester University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting on the student's educational interest are allowed access to student education records. These members include, without limitation, personnel in the offices of the Registrar, Bursar, Financial Aid, Admissions, and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.
At its discretion the institution may provide directory information (see Directory Information) in accordance with the provisions of the act to include a student's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, scholarship information, weight and height of members of athletic teams and all other information defined as directory information by West Chester University. Students may withhold directory information by submitting a "Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information" form to the Office of the Registrar within 15 calendar days after the beginning of each fall semester. If a student places this hold on their account it will remain in effect until otherwise notified.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. The University Registrar at West Chester University has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, and academic. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Office of the Registrar listing the item or items of interest. Only records covered by the act will be made available within 45 days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions, or a copy of the academic record for which a financial hold exists. These copies will be made at the students' expense. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the students' choosing.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the act: financial information submitted by their parents, confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.
Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the Office of the Registrar. If the decisions are in agreement with the students' requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the students will be notified within a reasonable amount of time that the records will not be amended, and they will be informed by the Office of the Registrar of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the associate vice president for academic affairs who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such request, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students' expense. The hearing panels which will adjudicate such challenges will be the individuals designated by the University.
Decisions of the hearing panels will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. Their education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panels, if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place within the education record statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the students' records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed. Students who believe adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the act may request, in writing, assistance from the president of the institution to aid them in filing complaints with Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and the institution's policy warrants. This policy has been adopted in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. 1232(g), and the regulations promulgated there under at 34 C.F.R. 99.1 et seq., and that reference should be made to that statute and regulations for additional information. Please contact the Office of the Registrar with any questions.