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Policy

Objective

To ensure the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is controlling access to student information in a manner consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA – aka, the Buckley Amendment).

Overview

FERPA gives four basic rights to students.

  1. the right to review their education records
  2. the right to seek to amend their education records
  3. the right to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information (directory information)
  4. the right to notify the Department of Education concerning an academic institution’s failure to comply with FERPA regulations

FERPA provides for confidentiality of student records; however, FERPA allows the institution to release basic identification information (directory information) of students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville without the consent of the individual. Release of information to third parties includes directory information, such as contained in the online web-based people directory and in sports brochures. Students are notified of their FERPA rights and the procedures for limiting disclosure of directory information via e-mail, in Hilltopics, at Orientation for new students, and here.

Directory Information: Information that can be released without additional consent from the student. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has established the following as directory information.


A student’s social security and student ID numbers are not directory information.

Advisor: Any person who is employed to work with students to assist in their academic success at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. For the purpose of this document, an advisor can be a faculty member, staff member, or graduate assistant and may or may not carry the title “Academic Advisor “ or “Advisor” and may or may not work in an “Advising Center.”

Student: Any individual who is or has been in attendance at the University of Tennessee and for whom the University maintains education records. An individual is considered to be in attendance when he or she registers for an academic offering at the University, whether or not the academic offering is offered for credit or no credit, and whether or not the academic offering is offered in person or by paper correspondence, videoconference, satellite, internet, or other electronic information or telecommunications technologies for students who are physically present in the classroom. The following persons are not students: (1) applicants who were denied admission to the University; and (2) applicants who were admitted to the University but did not register for courses.

Records Protected by FERPA: Any record that directly relates to a student and is maintained by the institution or a party acting on behalf of the institution is considered an education record. Protected education records can be maintained in paper, digital/electronic or other formats. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:


Records NOT protected by FERPA: The following items are NOT education records as defined by FERPA.

  • Sole possession records (these are records kept in the sole possession of the maker, used as a personal memory aid and not revealed to others, for example, an instructor’s notes)
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records
  • Treatment records, including medical, psychological, and counseling
  • Post-attendance records, records created or received by the University after an individual is no longer a student and not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student
  • Records created in the normal course of business including but not limited to media files created for marketing purposes or media files created for instructional purposes
  • Peer graded papers before they are collected and recorded by faculty

These records are governed by other laws and policies.

The University of Tennessee’s Information Technology Policy IT-0115 establishes a framework for classifying information. FERPA Directory Information is classified as Public (level 1), except where non-disclosure has been requested. All other FERPA information shall be classified and protected in accordance with Proprietary (level 2), and shall only be released in accordance with federal law. If a student requests privacy (see below), then the student’s directory information will be treated as Proprietary (level 2) data instead of Public (level 1) data, with the exception that the student’s information will still appear on class rosters (printed and electronic).

Information protection requirements are established and defined throughout the university’s IT policies and best practices which are available on the Information Security Office’s website.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) defines directory information as the following.

Name Graduate or Undergraduate Level
Semester (local) Address Full-time or part-time status
Permanent Address College
NetID Major
Email address (university-supplied) Dates of attendance
Telephone Number Degrees, honors and awards
Classification Participation in school activities and sports and photographs of such
Most recent previous educational institution attended Weight and height of students participating in intercollegiate athletics

Student directory information is included in the online web directory. Students wishing limited disclosure may submit a request in writing to the Office of the University Registrar at 209 Student Services Building using the Request for Directory Exclusion form. The University Registrar will implement procedures to prevent the release of the student’s directory information.

Once a student has requested non-disclosure (privacy), his or her directory information will not be disclosed until the student provides written instruction to change this status (remove the “privacy flag”). A student who has requested non-disclosure (privacy) will still have his or her name and other required information included on class rolls (in any format). Additionally, if the student has filed a consent to release form, that will override the non-disclosure instruction for the type of record and the person or party listed in the consent form.

Students, faculty, and staff of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville shall be notified of their FERPA rights and responsibilities on an annual basis. A variety of communication means shall be used to ensure the widest possible knowledge of FERPA rights and responsibilities.

A student shall be permitted to inspect and review his/her records within forty-five days following the date on which he/she notifies the University that he/she desires access to such records. Reasonable requests by a student for an explanation or interpretation of records shall be granted.

A student shall be entitled to challenge the content of his or her records. Disputes concerning the content of a student’s education record may be settled informally between the University and the student. Should resolution through informal means not be possible, either the University or the student shall have the right to request a hearing in order to resolve the dispute.  A student can request an amendment to their records when the record in question is believed to contain information that is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student’s rights of privacy. This right does not supplant other appeal processes in place at the University including grade appeals or academic dismissal appeals. When a formal hearing is requested by a student, it shall be granted through adherence with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville FERPA hearing procedures.

Limitation on Access by Student

A student’s access to his or her education records is limited by the following:

  • A student shall be denied access to a parent’s financial records.
  • A student shall be denied access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the University’s records prior to January 1, 1975.
  • A student shall be denied access to confidential recommendations respecting his/her admission to the University, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition if he/she has signed a waiver of access rights.
    • The University shall not require any student to waive access rights.
    • A party from which a recommendation is sought may require such a waiver.
    • A student who has signed a waiver shall be notified by the University of the names of parties providing confidential recommendations.
  • Confidential recommendations and letters shall be used only for the purpose for which they were solicited.

A student shall not be permitted to inspect records which personally identify other students even if he/she is personally identified. In such a case he/she shall simply be informed of the information contained in the record.

Students have the right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  The University discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.

A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted as its agent to act or provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, consultant, volunteer, or collection agent), the person is under the direct control of the University, and the person is subject to the same conditions governing the use and redisclosure of education records that apply to other school officials; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; 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. Upon request, the University also discloses education records without a student’s consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University. This includes but is not limited to course grades, attendance information, advising information, disciplinary records, financial statements, and housing information.

Education records protected by FERPA shall not be released to third parties without the express consent of the student unless it is done so in accordance with FERPA guidelines established by the Department of Education and this policy document. In general, parents, spouses, and other family members do not have a right to access student records without the express written consent of the student. Parents of dependent students, as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, can file proof of dependency with the appropriate office to have access to the protected records. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville strongly recommends that parents or guardians communicate with their students about the students’ education records.

Information contained in University records may be provided without notifying or obtaining a student’s consent to third parties engaged in the validation, development or administration of tests, accreditation activities, or research conducted on behalf of the University provided such information is not revealed to any other parties; in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid; and in accord with federal and/or state law governing the release of education records.

Records of students may also be released to the following without notifying or obtaining the consent of a student.

  • Authorized federal and state government officials.
  • Appropriate parties as the result of a properly executed subpoena or judicial order (a reasonable effort will be made to contact the student prior to release in response to any subpoena or judicial order unless the subpoena or order by its terms prohibits contacting the student).
  • Officials of other institutions in which the student seeks to enroll.
  • A party who is identified as the provider or creator of an education record.
  • Appropriate parties if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.  An appropriate party may be a parent of a student even if the student is not a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which a student’s education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including the student’s Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without the student’s consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to a student’s records and PII without a student’s consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to a student’s education records and PII without a student’s consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive a student’s PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without a student’s consent PII from a student’s education records, and they may track a student’s participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about a student that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

When records are released to any third party, a statement (written or verbal, as appropriate) shall accompany the records released stating that the release is conditioned upon the third party not permitting any other party to have access to the records without the student’s written consent. This requirement does not apply to disclosures made with a student’s written consent; to parents of dependent students; disclosures made pursuant to court orders, lawfully issued subpoenas, or litigation; disclosures of directory information; disclosures made in connection with a disciplinary proceeding; or disclosures made to parents of a violation of law, rule or policy governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, if the student is under age 21 at the time of the disclosure; or a party who is identified as the provider or creator of an education record.

All releases to third parties in accordance with previously listed exceptions shall be coordinated by the appropriate custodial office. Individual faculty or staff members should not release information without the consent of the appropriate office.

Public Records Request

Education records at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville are not subject to public records request per state statute.

Inquiries from the media for information about students shall be directed to the Office of Communications and Marketing. Inquiries from the media for information about student-athletes shall be directed to the Public Relations Office in the Athletic Department.

The Chancellor shall serve as custodian of all student records maintained by colleges, schools, and academic departments and shall designate the responsibility to the appropriate office, as needed. Custodians and locations of education records are listed in the procedures.

At times, it will be necessary for the University to obtain a student’s consent to release protected information. All consent to release must have the following components.

  • Purpose
  • Type of record to be released
  • Name of student
  • Person or class of parties to whom the information can be released
  • Date
  • Student’s signature

Additionally, all releases will expire within one (1) year of being executed or when stated on the form, except for the consent to release financial information. Consent to release financial information shall be in force for ten (10) years or until the student files a written revocation of the release with the Office of the Bursar.

Students may release academic records using the MyUTK portal.

Forms Available:

  • Consent to Release Academic Records
  • Student Information Release Form for Sponsored Projects
  • Consent to Release Disciplinary Records

Consent to Release Academic, Disciplinary or other Record Types:
For the release of academic records, students must fill out the form and submit it to the College Advising Center, Dean’s Office, Student Success Center or the Office of the University Registrar. For Disciplinary Records, students should submit the completed form to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards at 409 Student Services Building.

Student Information Release Form for Sponsored Projects:
Departments are to ensure the university’s FERPA policy is followed to protect the privacy of our students. The process will require department payroll administrators or those who process payroll to request all students complete a “Student Information Release Form for Sponsored Projects.” Departments will maintain a copy of the form for the student as long as the individual is a student. If the student was used on an awarded project, the department will retain the document for three years after the final audit of the sponsored project.

Consent to Release Financial Information Procedure: 
A student may release financial information through the MyUTK portal: https://myutk.utk.edu/. Students will choose “View/Pay Fees” and then the tab labeled “Authorize Users” to give consent to an individual to view the student’s account information and make payments on the student’s behalf. Adding an authorized user is the student’s written consent to give others the ability to access his/her account information.

Revocation of Consent to Release

A student may, at any time, revoke a previously granted consent to release. The student must submit written instructions to the office where the consent to release was filed. The instructions should include the following: Student’s name, student’s UT ID number, student’s signature, and a statement indicating the release that should be revoked or cancelled.

The custodian of a student’s education records will maintain a record of requests for access to and disclosures of information from a student’s education records as long as the education records are maintained. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request, what information, if any, was received, and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information. The student may review the record. Recordkeeping is not required if the request was from, or the disclosure was to one of the following.

  • the student
  • a school official determined to have a legitimate educational interest
  • a party with written consent from the student
  • a party seeking directory information
  • a federal grand jury or law enforcement agency pursuant to a judicial order or subpoena that by its terms requires nondisclosure

When the University discloses personally identifiable information from a student’s education record under the health or safety emergency exception, the University must include the following in the record of the disclosure.

  • the articulable and significant threat to the health or safety or a student or other individuals that formed the basis for the disclosure
  • the parties to whom the University disclosed the information

Faculty, staff, and students who have access to protected records will be required to complete training as appropriate. General training about FERPA will be provided by the University. Additional training will be provided by the employee’s Division, College, or Department that pertains to the employee’s duties and expectations regarding FERPA and appropriate access to student education records.

FERPA 1001 REVSION #: 1.2 – Revised: 30 April 2009

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