FERPA for Staff

Can I access student information?

As a staff member, you are permitted to access student information if you have “a legitimate educational interest,” as defined by the Department of Education. The information must be necessary for you to perform your normal job duties. If it is not, there is no legitimate educational interest.

If someone requests directory information for a student, am I required to provide it?

FERPA says that we “may” release directory information, not that we must. If you are uncomfortable providing the information requested, even if it is directory information (such as a local address), then you should not provide it.

Are the student employees in our area permitted to view student records?

Student employees are considered “school officials” as long as their responsibilities require that they have access to the information. They should only have access to the information needed to do their job. They should be given proper training regarding FERPA, how to handle student (and faculty/staff) information and expectations regarding confidentiality prior to being given access. It is recommended that the student sign a confidentiality/FERPA agreement.

If a student sends me an e-mail asking for information regarding their record, can I provide this information via e-mail?

You can, as long as it is to the student’s NMU e-mail address. If the student e-mails you from a different e-mail address, you can let them know that you sent the information to them through their NMU e-mail and they should check that.

What if a parent contacts me and wants to know something about their son or daughter?

Anything that is contained in a file or on a computer system is part of the student’s educational record. You cannot share this information with a parent unless you have written authorization from the student to do so. Even then, the authorization must specifically state what information may be released to the parent(s). Sometimes you can be helpful by providing the parent with general information regarding policies or practices that might provide some insight to the parent. It is recommended that you tell the parent that although you are unable to share specific information with them due to federal regulations, you would be happy to discuss it with their son/daughter.

What if another faculty or staff member asks for information regarding a student?

In general, you may share information internally with other faculty and staff if the person you are sharing the information with has an educational need to know (they need the information to perform their normal job duties). If the information does not relate to the person’s job duties, it should not be shared.

What if I receive a request for information from a student organization?

Members of a student organization are not considered University officials. Information cannot be provided to them. Information may be provided to the adviser of the organization (for example, to have a mailing sent) as long as the adviser does not turn it over to the student group.

What if I’m concerned that a student might harm him/herself or others?

If there is any perceived threat to the health or safety of the student or others, you may (and should) express your concern to the appropriate person(s) at the University. That may include your supervisor, the Dean of Students, or Public Safety, depending on the situation and the immediacy of it. If you are in a situation where you are unsure as to whether or not to disclose such information, it is better to let someone know than to “wait and see.”

What kind of information can I include in a letter of recommendation?

If you are writing a recommendation that includes anything from the student’s educational record (grades, attendance, etc.) you need written permission from the student to do so. If you are just writing general observations about the person (things that can’t be found in a file or on a computer system), you do not need written permission.

Who should I contact with specific questions or concerns?

For more information, review the University’s FERPA policy. General questions regarding FERPA or the release of information may be directed to the Office of the Registrar (krotundo@nmu.edu; 227-2278).