FERPA - Student Education Records Policy
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, ("the Act," commonly referred to as "FERPA" or the "Buckley Amendment") is designed to protect the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on their students and to give students access to their records to assure the accuracy of their contents. The purposes of W&L's Student Education Records Policy are: to inform students of their rights under the Act; to inform employees, student workers, third-party contractors, and volunteers of Washington and Lee's responsibilities under the Act; and to describe the circumstances under which the university may disclose student education records.
This policy applies to all "education records" of W&L "students" as those two terms are defined within this policy. All faculty and staff employees, student workers, third-party contractors, and volunteers of W&L are expected to comply with this policy.
Applicable definitions are set out in the text of the policy below.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 ("the Act", often referred to as FERPA or the "Buckley Amendment") is designed to protect the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on their students and to give students access to their records to assure the accuracy of their contents. The Act affords you certain rights with respect to your education records. They are:
- Access to Education Records: the right to inspect and review your education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a written request for access, anytime after your matriculation.
- Types, locations and custodians of records
- Records not open to student review
- Right of the University to refuse to provide copies
- Fee for copies of records
- Request for Amendment of Education Records: the right to request amendment of your education records if you believe they are inaccurate, misleading or in violation of your privacy rights under the Act.
- Destruction of Records
- Disclosure of Education Records: the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information in your education records, except to the extent that the Act or any superseding law authorizes disclosure without your consent.
- Compliance: the right to contact the Family Policy Compliance Office with a complaint concerning Washington and Lee's compliance with the requirements of the Act. For more information, contact the University's FERPA officer, Kim Robinson, University Registrar.
Washington and Lee University uses the following definitions in this policy.
Education records: any record maintained by Washington and Lee which is directly related to a student, with the following exceptions:
- Records made by Washington and Lee employees which are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record;
- Employment records unless the employment is contingent on the fact that the employee is a student;
- Records maintained by the Office of Public Safety solely for law enforcement purposes;
- Records made, maintained and used by professionals or paraprofessionals (e.g., physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor) only in connection with treatment of the student, and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment. Such health records may be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.
- Alumni records containing information about individuals after they are no longer students and which do not relate to the individuals as students.
Legitimate educational interest: A school official has a legitimate educational interest when the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of the university, such as when the official is performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement or other official appointment; performing a task related to a student's education; performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
School official: A person employed by Washington and Lee in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including Public Safety and Student Health staff; volunteers or contractors (individuals or entities) performing a service or function for which the university would otherwise use its employees, and who are under the direct control of the university with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records (e.g., an attorney, auditor, or vendor; the State Council on Higher Education; the National Student Clearinghouse); individuals serving on the Board of Trustees; and students conducting university business (e.g., serving on official committees, working for Washington and Lee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks).
Student: any person who attends or has attended Washington and Lee, as determined by matriculation and enrollment by the first date of an academic term.
Types, Locations and Custodians of Education Records: The following is a list of the types of education records that Washington and Lee University maintains, their locations, and their custodians, with an email link to each:
|Admissions and Academic Records (UGR)||Elrod University Commons||Dean of Students|
|Admissions and Academic Records||Early-Fielding||University Registrar|
|Admissions and Academic Records (Law)||Sydney Lewis Hall||Director, Law Student Records|
|Financial Records||2 South Main||University Treasurer|
|Financial Records||21 University Place||Director of Financial Aid|
|Advising Records||Faculty Office at each academic department or school||Department administrative assistant or faculty|
|Disability Accommodations Records (UGR)||Elrod University Commons||Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources|
|Disability Accommodations Records (Law)||Elrod University Commons||Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources|
|Health and Counseling Records||Student Health Center, Davis Hall||Director of Student Health and Counseling|
|Disciplinary and Student Conduct Records (UGR)||Elrod University Commons||Dean of Students|
|Disciplinary and Student Conduct Records (Law)||Sydney Lewis Hall||Director, Law Student Records|
|Career Development Records (UGR)||Undergraduate Career Development|
|Career Services Records (Law)||Sydney Lewis Hall||Law Career Services|
You have the right to inspect and review your education records within 45 days of the day Washington and Lee receives a written request for access, anytime after your matriculation. You should submit your written request, identifying as precisely as possible the record(s) you wish to review, to the University Registrar, dean or other appropriate official records custodian. The university official will make arrangements for your review of the education records, or will advise you of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
Waivers: When you wish a member of the faculty or administration to write a letter of recommendation to graduate schools or possible employers, you may be asked to sign a waiver to assure the confidentiality of the recommender's observations. If this occurs, it means only that we need to be able to say candidly what we think about your capabilities and potential. Very simply, such candor is in the long-range best interest of all Washington and Lee students and the university.
If you use the services of our career services offices in an effort to secure employment or access to graduate school, waivers are likely to be requested regarding your transcript, your resume, letters of recommendation on file with the office(s), and any other data of natural interest to interviewers.
Waivers may be signed only for the specific purposes of application for admission, candidacy for honorary recognition (including merit-related financial aid), and application for employment. Waivers will not be required and you may be told, at your request, the names of those supplying references. You may revoke a waiver, in writing, for future actions but not for letters or recommendations already in your education records.
Records not open to student review: In accordance with federal regulations, students do not have the right to review the following records:
- financial records of the student's parent;
- letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived his or her right of access, or which were placed in the file before January 1, 1975;
- records connected with an application to attend Washington and Lee University if that application was denied;
- education records containing information about more than one student, in which case Washington and Lee will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student;
- records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records
Right of the University to refuse to provide copies: Washington and Lee University reserves the right to deny copies if the transcripts or other records are not required to be made available under FERPA, if the student has an overdue financial obligation to the university, or if there is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.
Fee for copies of records: When you make a written request for your own official academic transcript there is no charge, except for delivery fees beyond first-class U.S. postage. In order to obtain copies of other parts of your own education records the fee is the cost normally charged students for use of such university equipment. The fee for all other copies of education records, whether authorized by student consent or otherwise allowed by the Act, is $.50 per page.
You have the right to request amendment of your education records if you believe they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights under the Act. You should write the University official responsible for the specific record, clearly identify the part of the record you want changed, and specify why it should be changed.
That university official will reach a decision and inform you in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If your request to amend the record is denied, the university official will advise you of your right to a hearing on the requested amendment, and provide information on hearing procedures. This hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer or committee appointed by the Provost. The hearing will be held before an officer or committee with no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. However, the hearing officer or committee may be employed by or exist at Washington and Lee. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for a hearing has been made. The hearing officer will notify you, reasonably in advance, of the date, place and time of the hearing.
You will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. You may be accompanied by one or more other persons, including an attorney. The hearing officer or committee will make a decision in writing based on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
If the hearing officer or committee supports the complaint, the education record will be amended accordingly and you will be so informed. If the hearing officer or committee decides not to amend the education record, you have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreeing with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion is maintained, and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, your statement will be included.
Destruction of Records: Nothing in this policy requires the continued maintenance of any student record for any particular length of time. However, if under the terms of this policy you have requested access to your education record, the record will not be destroyed before the custodian has granted you access.
You have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information in your education records, except to the extent that the Act or any superseding law authorizes disclosure without your consent. Other than directory information, it is the general practice of Washington and Lee University to disclose student education records only with the written consent of the student. However, in certain situations Washington and Lee retains discretion under FERPA, or may be authorized under superseding law, to disclose such records without consent, including the following:
1. to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records.
- a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including Public Safety and Student Health staff;
- individuals or entities volunteering on behalf of the university, or with whom the university has contracted to provide a service, instead of using university personnel (e.g., an attorney, auditor, or vendor; the State Council on Higher Education; the National Student Loan Clearinghouse), and who are under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records;
- individuals serving on the Board of Trustees; and
- students conducting university business (e.g., serving on official committees, working for the university, assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks).
A school official has a legitimate educational interest when the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of the University, such as when the official is
- performing a task that is specific in his or her job description, assigned work or volunteer duties, or by a contract
- agreement or other official appointment;
- performing a task related to a student's education;
- performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or
- providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
2. to officials of another school in which you have sought or intend to enroll. The university will forward records to such other schools upon their request.
3. to authorized officials of the following entities, in connection with federal- or state-supported education programs: the U.S. Department of Education; the U.S. Comptroller General; the U.S. Attorney General; or state and local educational authorities. Disclosures under this provision may be made in connection with an audit or evaluation of federal- or state-supported educational programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of personally identifiable information to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf, subject to the requirements of applicable FERPA regulations (34 CFR 99.31(a)(3) and 99.35).
4. in connection with a student's request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
5. to organizations conducting certain studies for educational purposes for or on behalf of the university, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.
6. to accrediting organizations, including individuals on visiting committees, to carry out their functions.
7. to parents who claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes, though the university generally does not release personally identifiable information from education records under this exception.
8. to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, provided the university makes a reasonable attempt to notify you in advance of compliance (except in certain cases involving grand jury subpoenas) or, when the university is involved in a legal action with a parent or student, where disclosure is to the court, without a court order or subpoena, and is relevant for the university to proceed as plaintiff or to defend itself.
9. to appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.
10. to appropriate parties in connection with certain disciplinary proceedings as follows:
a. to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense (as defined by FERPA regulations at 34 CFR 99.39), the final results of any Washington and Lee disciplinary proceeding with respect to the crime or offense, regardless of whether the university concluded a violation was committed.
b. otherwise in connection with a disciplinary proceeding for a crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense (as defined above), Washington and Lee retains the discretion to disclose the final results of the disciplinary proceeding to other members of the campus community and the general public only if the university determines that the alleged student perpetrator has committed a violation of university rules/policies with respect to the crime or offense. The name of any other student, victim or witness, may not be disclosed without that other student's consent. Disclosure to any individual other than the alleged victim applies only to disciplinary proceedings in which the final results were reached on or after October 7, 1998.
For purposes of both subsections (a) and (b), "final results" must include only the name of the alleged perpetrator student, the violation committed (rules violated and essential supporting findings), and the sanction imposed (disciplinary action taken, date, and duration).
11. to comply with a court order obtained under the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 for education records considered relevant to a terrorism investigation or prosecution, without advance notice to the student.
12. to disclose to a student's parent information regarding any violation of law or of university rule or policy as to alcohol or controlled substances use or possession, if the student is under age 21 at the time of the disclosure and the university determines that such alcohol/drug use or possession constitutes a disciplinary violation.
13. to disclose information provided to Washington and Lee under Section 170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 14071) concerning registered sex offenders who are required to register under that section.
14. to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) / Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concerning an F, J, or M nonimmigrant alien, only to the extent necessary for Washington and Lee to comply with Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reporting requirements, as mandated by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, and the regulation at 8 CFR 214.1(h). Consent is not necessary for the university to disclose required information to USCIS or DHS in compliance with SEVP reporting obligations.
Consent for the disclosure of a student's education records must be in writing, signed and dated by the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons for such release, and to whom the records are to be disclosed.
Record of disclosures: Except where not required under FERPA regulations (34 CFR 99.33) (such as for disclosures to parents, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures pursuant to court order under the USA PATRIOT Act), Washington and Lee will inform all third parties (anyone outside the university) to whom personal information from a student's education record is released that no further release of such information is authorized without written consent of the student. Washington and Lee will maintain a record of third parties who have requested or obtained access to a student's education records (not including individuals outside the university who are acting as "school officials," parties seeking directory information, parties having student consent, parents, circumstances involving certain grand jury subpoenas, and disclosures pursuant to court order under the USA PATRIOT Act), indicating the legitimate interest that each such person or entity has in obtaining this information. This record of access, to be kept with the student's educational record, is available only to the student and the custodian(s) of the record.
Directory Information: Washington and Lee University collects, creates, and maintains information about students while they are enrolled. W&L designates the following categories of student information as public or "Directory Information." W&L may disclose such information at its discretion.
- Current enrollment
- Local address as a student
- Permanent address as a student
- Local telephone number
- Email addresses
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Class standing (e.g., sophomore)
- Schedule of classes
- Previous institution(s) attended
- Field(s) of study
- Awards and honors (e.g., Honor Roll, Dean's List)
- Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
- Full-time or part-time status
- Photographic or videotaped image
- Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, including fraternities and sororities, and physical factors of athletes (e.g., height, weight).
(Examples of information which are NOT directory information and which are thus not releasable without advanced student permission or applicable exception under the Act include specific course grades, grade-point averages, race, religion, and parent names.)
Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information, except to school officials who have a legitimate need to know it. To withhold disclosure, written notification using the online FERPA Block form must be received by the University Registrar's Office at: Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia 24450-2116. Directory information will then be withheld until the student releases the hold on disclosure. Students should understand that, by withholding directory information, some information considered important to students may not reach them.
If a student wishes a "FERPA block" on directory information to remain in effect after the last term of enrollment at W&L, a separate written request using the same form must be made to the University Registrar prior to the end of that term. Such a hold will remain in place unless removed in writing.
This policy has not yet been revised.