requests to the Registrarís Office when you are uncertain how to
DO release a
studentís information to him or her when you can positively
identify the student. Remember telephone and e-mails are not
reliable methods to make positive IDs.
DO post grades
DO use Blackboard to give individual students access to their
grades and assignments.
DO check Access.SMU
to verify student's consent prior to releasing information.
Do feel comfortable to contact the
Registrar's Office for assistance including the one time parental
release for dependent students.
unneeded confidential documents.
confidential information on computer screens from unauthorized
DO NOT display student scores or grades publicly in association
with names, student ID numbers (even the last 4 digits of the SSN) or other personal Identifiers.
NOTE - Randomly assigned numbers or code words that only the instructor and student know can be used to post grades and are not a violation of FERPA. However, the posting order should NOT be in alphabetical order.
DO NOT put exam papers containing student names and grades in
publicly accessible places. Students should not have access to
the scores and grades of the other students in the class.
DO NOT post grades on any individual Facebook page or group
DO NOT share student education record information with other
campus officials unless there is "legitimate educational need"
for that information.
DO NOT share by phone or e-mail information from student
education records, with parents or others outside the
institution, including letters of recommendation, without
written permission of the student.
DO NOT circulate a class Roster and/or Grade Roster since it
will have the students' names and student IDs.
DO NOT view
education records for personal reasons.
" When In Doubt, Don't
Give Out "
access to all our students, and not just my assigned
advisees or students in my classes?
Yes. In all
circumstances you will need to
have a ďlegitimate educational needĒ to access records
information. You are responsible to ensure a legitimate
educational need exists.
What defines a
legitimate educational interest?
A faculty or staff
member has a legitimate educational interest in accessing or
reviewing a studentís education records, if the faculty or
staff member is:
a task that is specified in his/her position description or
a task related to a studentís education or to student
service or benefit related to the student or studentís
safety and security on campus.
What information collected and maintained by the University about a student am I as a faculty
member permitted to see?
All faculty members have access to
directory information ( What does SMU
define as Directory Information? ). You may access other information in the educational record when you have a legitimate educational interest: that is when in the exercise or completion of your administrative, supervisory, academic, research or other administrative responsibilities on behalf of SMU, you incur the need to know specific information from those records. (See
SMU Policy 1.18)
If a student restricts the release of his/her directory information, what happens when faculty requires the studentís email address (part of directory information) for class work and class discussions?
Restrictions on directory information do not apply to in-class communications. Students have no inherent right to anonymity in the classroom whether itís an online class or a physical classroom. When students are in a classroom itís a given that they know each otherís names, emails and general information. It is good practice to notify students upfront (through course description, syllabus, in-class communication, etc..) that emails will be shared and that online discussion and communication will be a part of the nature of the class. No other education records information of a student should be shared by faculty with other students.
May I talk to
another faculty member about a studentís education record?
records may be discussed among faculty and campus officials as long
as all parties have a legitimate educational interest. The
information from the studentís record discussed should ideally be
needed in order for the school official to perform tasks that are
relevant to his or her role.
Does FERPA allow a faculty member to speak to a parent or to another faculty or staff member when s/he thinks a student is in trouble?
FERPA does not prohibit faculty members from discussing their personal
observations with parents
or with other faculty/staff if the
situation warrants such communication. However, we recommend that
the faculty member talk with the
Dean of Student Life
before contacting other parties, 214-768-4564.
To make the release of this
information easy and confidential, the Division of Student Affairs has
provided a web link ďCaring
Community ConnectionsĒ which allows faculty and staff to submit
information online (maybe done
anonymously) identifying students of concern. The Dean of Student
Life office will then utilize that
information to connect these students with relevant resources and
it permissible to post student grades on my office door by using
only a portion of student's social security number?
The public posting
of grades either by the student's name, SMU ID Number or social security number (whole or part
of it), without the
student's written permission, is a violation of FERPA. Even with
names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered
personally identifiable information and therefore violate FERPA.
there restrictions on returning assignments and examinations?
a violation of FERPA for faculty to leave graded exams where students can see
each otherís grades and work. Leaving personally identifiable,
graded papers or examinations unattended for students to view is
no different from posting grades in the hallway. Studentís right
to privacy of education records should be honored at all
What are ďSole
Possession NotesĒ and do I have to release them to students if
Sole possession notes are made by one person as an individual
observation or recollection of a student, and are kept in the possession
of the maker. Sole
possession notes are not subject to FERPA regulations. However,
sharing the notes with another person, or placing them in an area
where they can be viewed by others makes them ďeducation recordsĒ
and become subject to FERPA.
Can I e-mail
final grades to students?
If the email is being sent to each student
one at a time and doesnít
include the grades and information of other students, then this is
not considered a violation of FERPA. Notification of grades via
e-mail is permissible. However, there is no guarantee of
confidentiality. Itís preferable to send grades through regular US
mail with the information enclosed in an envelope to ensure privacy.
May I include a studentís
grade in a letter of recommendation that
has asked me to write?
Statements made by a faculty making a
recommendation that are made from that faculty's personal
observation or knowledge do not require a written release from
the student. However, if personally identifiable
information obtained from a student's education record is
included in the letter of recommendation (for example grades
in the recommender's course(s) ), then you are required to obtain a signed release
from the student.
The release will need to specify the records that may be
disclosed, state the purpose of the disclosure, and identify
the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be
made. This student release should be requested from the student
prior to writing a letter of recommendation.
* Faculty are not required to maintain the letters of
recommendation, but it is suggested that they do retain the
permission letter for 6 months. Faculty can
encourage students to use this
Sample Permission Letter
which includes a waiver statement that the faculty may or
may not use.
A father has
called me about his daughterís performance in my class. What can I
Progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, final grades,
grades on exams, and other information about academic progress are
examples of the confidential information that makes up part of a
student's education record. This information is protected under
FERPA and parents do not have access to it unless the student has
provided consent to the release of this information. You can verify
the parent's authorization to access the student's education record
through Access.SMU. Refer to
Faculty / Staff
Instructions for more detailed information.
What if a parent
tells me that he or she has already talked with the student and
still has questions?
You will still need the student's consent to release any
information to the parents. Only after you have confirmed the
student's consent through Access.SMU, you may discuss a
studentís performance. Refer to the
Faculty / Staff
Instructions page for detailed instructions on how to check
student releases though the Release of Education Records feature
spouse has no rights under FERPA to access the studentís education record.
If a student asks for an explanation regarding his or her
performance, can I compare the
performance of the student asking for the
explanation with the
performance of other
No. Although a faculty
member or teaching assistant can, of course, explain why a
particular student performed well or poorly on a given examination
or other assignment, in so doing the faculty member or teaching
assistant should not discuss or make reference to the performance of
other students. Disclosing information regarding another student
jeopardizes that studentís privacy rights.
Are the Pre College Students (Concurrent Enrollment Students,
Talented and Gifted Students, and College Experience Students) and
the Academic Prelude Studentsí education records protected under FERPA?
FERPA applies for a student when he/she enrolls in a higher
education institution at any age.Parents do not have access to
studentís education records unless they gain authorization to
access and receive information from their child's education
records. Parents of a student enrolled
in these programs who wish to have access to their child's
records are encouraged to work with their student to gain access
to his/her education records through Access.SMU. More
information is available at the Release of Education Records page.
How do I properly
dispose of confidential information?
The business unit responsible for the personal information will
arrange for the destruction of records containing student
confidential information by shredding, erasing, or otherwise modifying
the personal information to make the information unreadable or
undecipherable through any means.
information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency
situation, SMU may release that information if it determines it
necessary to protect the health and safety of a student.
However, if personally identifiable information about a student
is needed, then the inquiring party should be referred to the
Dean of Student Life office, 302 Hughes-Trigg Student Center,
214-768-4563 or the
Registrar,101 Blanton Student Services Building, 214-768-3417. Efforts will be made to get
word to the student of the emergency.