FERPA/Confidentiality of Student Education Records
Missouri State University adheres to a policy of compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). 20 U.S.C. 1232g. Eligible students have four primary rights under FERPA including the right to:
- Right to Records Inspection
A student has a right to inspect and review any education record permitted under this policy. Education records are maintained in a number of university offices. Requests to review records must be made in writing to the responsible official of each office which maintains the records (or to the university registrar) who shall comply with a request within 45 days upon receipt. When a record contains personally identifiable information about more than one student, a student may inspect only that information which relates to the student.
The university reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect the following records:
- Financial records of the student’s parents
- Confidential letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived the right of inspection and review
- Records connected with an application to attend the university or a component unit of the university if that application was denied
- Those records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records
- Right to Consent to Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information
The university will not release personally identifiable information in education records or allow access to those records except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent, including but not limited to the following:
- The individual student
- Whomever the student authorizes by providing the institution with a written release (release must be written, signed and dated, and must specify the records to be disclosed and the identity of the recipient)
- Any party requesting directory information (unless the student has a FERPA hold)
- Missouri State University officials who have a legitimate educational interest
- Officials of other schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll or is enrolled
- Parents if parents claim the student as a dependent for tax purposes. The university will exercise this option only on the condition that evidence of such dependency is furnished to the office of the registrar and all requests for disclosures are referred to that office
- Persons in connection with a health or safety emergency
- An alleged victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense in connection with a Disciplinary Proceeding
- Parents regarding alcohol and drug violations of a student under 21 years of age
- As otherwise provided in 20 U.S.C. 1232g(b) and 34 CFR Sec. 99.31
- Right to Request an Amendment to Educational Records
A student who believes that information contained in the student’s education record is inaccurate, misleading or violates privacy or other rights may request that the records be amended. The responsible official shall then decide whether or not to amend the record. If the record is not amended, the student will be advised of the right to a hearing.
Challenge Hearing Procedures
In most cases, the decision of the responsible official will be final. However, a student may elect to file an appeal in writing to the office of the registrar in order to challenge the content of the educational record. (The right to challenge grades does not apply unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded, under which condition the record will be corrected.)
- A disinterested hearing officer will be appointed who shall afford the student full opportunity to present evidence in support of the challenge.
- The hearing shall be held within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed thirty (30) days under normal circumstances, after the institution has received the request, and the student shall be given notice of the date, place and time reasonably in advance of the hearing.
- The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues, and may be assisted or represented by individuals of the student’s choosing at the student’s expense, including an attorney.
- The hearing officer shall render a decision within a reasonable time after the hearing, not to exceed thirty (30) days, and inform the student in writing of the outcome.
- The decision shall be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing and shall include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.
- If the hearing officer decides that the record is not inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the student, the student shall then have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting upon the information in the education record and/or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing official. Any such written explanation then becomes a part of the education record.
- If the education records of the student or the contested portion thereof are disclosed to any party, the explanation shall also be disclosed to that party.
- Right to File a Complaint
Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if they believe that the university has failed to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The complaint should be in writing and sent to: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-8520.
Additional Right to Limit Disclosure of Directory Information
In addition to the four primary rights described above, currently enrolled students have the right to suppress disclosure of their directory information. Directory information may be available through the following:
- Online directory (People Search)
A request to exclude information from the online directory may be completed by currently enrolled students.
- University Email Address Book
Currently enrolled students may request to exclude information from the University Email Address Book by submitting a FERPA Hold Request Form to the office of the registrar. This hold will remain applicable until the student submits a written request specifying otherwise. The University Email Address Book may include the student’s name, email address, Instant Messenger address, classification and major.
- Sunshine Law Requests
In accordance with the Missouri Sunshine Law, the university is required to release student directory information. To be excluded from all Sunshine Law requests, students must submit a FERPA Hold Request Form by the end of the second week of the semester. This hold does not apply retroactively to previous releases of directory information and will remain applicable until the student submits a written request specifying otherwise. To request a FERPA Hold, students must submit the FERPA Hold Request Form to the office of the registrar. General requests for student addresses will be fulfilled by providing one address for each student based on availability according to the following hierarchy: (1) residence hall; (2) current mailing and (3) primary/permanent. General requests for student telephone numbers will be generated in similar fashion.
A student is an individual with respect to whom the university maintains education records or personally identifiable information and who is or who has been in attendance at the university. A student does not include a person who has not been in attendance.
In attendance means a student is officially registered for at least one class and that class has started.
Directory information may appear in public documents and may otherwise be disclosed by the university for any purpose in its discretion, without the student’s consent. The following categories of information have been designated as directory information at Missouri State University:
- Name (current, former, and chosen)
- Address (residence hall, current and primary/permanent)
- Telephone number*
- Campus email address
- Field of study, including majors, minors, certifications and pre-professional areas of study
- Classification (e.g., sophomore)
- Enrollment status (e.g., full-time, part-time or less than part-time)
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports, including photographs of athletes
- Dates of attendance, including matriculation, drop and withdrawal dates
- Degrees and certificates applied for and/or received including award date
- Awards received, including Dean's list, scholastic honors, departmental honors, memberships in national honor societies, athletic letters and university-funded scholarships (excluding those that are need-based)
- Previous education institutions attended
*Cell phone numbers, unless provided as a current or primary/permanent telephone number, are not considered directory information.
Contact information provided exclusively for purposes of the emergency notification system is not considered directory information.
Education records include those records which contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by the university or by a person acting for the university. In accordance with FERPA guidelines, the following are not education records: law enforcement records, student employment records, medical records, and alumni records. The regulations also exclude from the definition of education records any record that is in the sole possession of the maker of the record where the record is used only as a personal memory aid for the maker and the record is not accessible or revealed to any other person (except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record).
Legitimate educational interest is the need to review an education record in order for a university official to: perform an administrative task outlined in the official’s duties; perform a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student’s education; or perform service or benefit for the student such as health care, job placement or financial aid.
A university official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff). Also considered university officials are members of the Board of Governors, a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent), temporary employees, student workers, and graduate assistants employed by the university.
Deceased Student Records
FERPA rights cease upon death; however, with the approval of the registrar, educational records may be released to the student’s family or others with a demonstrated legitimate interest. Documentation may be required.
For Additional Information
Additional information is available on the office of the registrar website. If you have any questions regarding this policy or if you feel that your rights under FERPA are being violated, please contact the office of the registrar at 901 South National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65897 or call 417-836-5520.