Appendix C. Policies for the Release and Disclosure of Information from Student Records
These guidelines incorporate the requirements of the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Buckley Amendment). They are issues subject to revision as the law is changed or construed, and stated so that there will be the least disruption if contrary interpretations should prevail.
The University of Rhode Island maintains student records primarily for educational purposes, although student records are maintained for other purposes such as health and employment. Procedures for the release and disclosure of student records maintained by the University are in large measure governed by State and Federal laws. It is the purpose of these guidelines to provide reasonable interpretations of the laws as presently stated and to protect the student's right to privacy. Where the law is silent, the University shall be guided by the principle that the privacy of an individual is of great weight and that all information in the student's file should be disclosed to the student upon request.
Information confirming the following items about individual students is public (the office listed is the office having the most accurate information):
-full name -- Enrollment Services
-campus address -- Enrollment Services
-home address -- Enrollment Services
-telephone listing -- Campus Directory
-date and place of birth -- Enrollment Services
-major field of study -- Enrollment Services
-participation in officially recognized activities and sports --
Student Activities Office; Sports Information Office
-weight and height of members of athletic teams --
Sports Information Office
-dates of attendance -- Enrollment Services
-degrees and awards received -- Enrollment Services
-the most recent previous educational institution attended -- Enrollment Services
-class year -- Enrollment Services
Public information may be released or published without the student's consent. Currently enrolled students may inform the appropriate office that public records should not be released or published (forms available from designated offices).
1. Nature of Confidential Records
All personally identifiable information relating to particular students used to make decisions about the student or for transmittal to others outside the institution other than public records as defined above is considered confidential information. This information includes but is not necessarily limited to:
- academic evaluation
- general counseling and advising records
- disciplinary records
- financial aid records
- letters of recommendation
- medical or health records
- clinical counseling and psychiatric records
- transcripts, test scores, and other academic records
2. Disclosure of Confidential Information to the Student
Right of Inspection and Review: A currently or previously enrolled student has the right to inspect and review official records, files, and data directly related to the student as a student. Access will be provided in the presence of a staff member. This right does not extend to applicants, those denied admission or those admitted who do not enroll. A student in one unit of the University, who applies for admission to another unit, but who never attends the other unit, has no right to inspect the records accumulated by the second unit. Where such information involves other students, the student is entitled to inspect or be informed of that portion of the information that pertains to himself or herself only. Requests under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 will be accepted as of January 1975 and will be responded to within forty-five days. Only in rare situations will the response period ever approach this limit. Offices may require that requests for access be submitted in writing and may ask for, but not require the reason for the request.
Right to Obtain Photocopies: The right to inspect and review official records includes a provision for copying the records upon request (except where copies are already available to students under established University procedures, or are not available due to indebtedness or obligation to the University). Students may obtain copies by asking the office maintaining the record to complete a "copy payment form". The student must then take the form to the Office of Enrollment Services for payment. Enrollment Services will collect the payment, stamp the form "paid", and return the student to the appropriate office where copies will be made. When the collected funds reach a total of $10 for any office, Enrollment Services will rebate the funds to the office's account. This section is not intended to allow pressure from third parties to have students turn over their entire records.
Definition of Official Records: For purposes of this section, the term "official records, files and data" includes that material on students pertaining to their status as students held by any unit or department of the University which is intended for University use or to be available to parties outside the University. It does not include:
- Letters of recommendation or statements of reference for students obtained or prepared before January 1975 pursuant to written or documented promises of confidentiality or personally signed letters of recommendation to which students have waived their rights of access
- employment records of students as University employees
- campus law enforcement records held in the Campus Police Station
- clinical, medical, counseling, or psychiatric records (these records or copies thereof may be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice)
- financial records of the parents of the student or any information contained therein
- private records kept by individual faculty or administrators possibly used as memory aids unless intended for transmittal to others
- institutional records of students which may be maintained by the University in a computer printout or similar format (so long as this computerized information is not intended to be distributed outside the University), as long as the original course of computer information is available in the office or department having original jurisdiction for the.
Right of Explanation: A student is entitled to an explanation of any information contained in official records directly related to the student. The student has the opportunity for a hearing:
- to challenge the content of such records to ensure that they are not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of privacy or other rights
- to correct or delete any such inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of privacy or inappropriate data
- to insert into the records a written explanation
The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student's work (grades or other evaluations of work assigned) is not within the scope of such hearings. A student may challenge the factual and objective elements of the content of student records but not the qualitative and subjective elements of grading.
Hearing Procedure: The procedure to be followed should a student object to items included in her/his personal record is as follows:
- the student should discuss the objection with the individual responsible for the office where the student record is maintained
- if not satisfied, the student should discuss the objection with the individual to whom that person reports
- if not satisfied, the student should discuss the objection with the appropriate vice president or their designee
- if not satisfied, the student should file a written request for a formal hearing with the Office of the President
Upon receipt of a written request for a formal hearing, the Hearing Board on Student Confidential Records (two members appointed by the President and the Assistant to the President as Chair) must hold a hearing within three calendar weeks. The Hearing Board must allow a full and fair opportunity for the presentation of evidence relevant to the reason(s) for the hearing request and must render a decision in writing to the requesting student within one week of the conclusion of the hearing. This section is not meant to require a formal hearing with rules of evidence, transcript of proceedings, presentation of sworn testimony, or cross examination of witnesses.
3. Waiver of Access
Students may be invited, but not required to waive their right of access to confidential letters of recommendation for admission, honors or awards, or Career Services. Students will suffer no prejudice in admission, financial aid, or other University services by reason of not executing the waiver. If the waiver is signed, the applicant may request a list of all persons making confidential recommendations or statements.
4. Disclosure of Confidential Information to Third Parties
Definition of Third Parties: Third parties (including the URI Campus Police) do not have access to personally identifiable records or information pertaining to students as students without the written consent of the student specifying the records to be released, to whom the records are to be released, and the reasons for such release. Excepted from this restriction are:
- University officials (except Campus Police personnel) who require access on an internal need-to-know basis for legitimate educational purposes
- students in their official capacity as file clerks working in the University offices
- disclosure of appropriate academic records to officials of other educational institutions to which the student has applied and intends to enroll (on condition that the student is entitled to a copy of such records) if the student previously directed that the record be sent
- records released pursuant to judicial order (on condition that a reasonable effort be made to notify the student of the subpoena in advance of the records being released)
- records released in connection with the student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid
This policy does not preclude access to student records by authorized federal or state officials in connection with the audit and evaluation of federally supported education plans or in connection with the enforcement of federal legal requirements that relate to such plans.
Procedural Standards for Disclosure to Third Parties: Confidential information is transferred to a third party only on the condition that such party is informed that they may not permit any other party to have access to such information without the written consent of the student.
- no third party may have access to such records before signing and dating a written form indicating the legitimate educational or other interest of the third party. Such forms must be kept permanently on file and open to inspection by the student
- where third parties have requested access to records but where no access was granted, no written record of the request will be made
- the University is not required to release information to third parties upon the request of the student. This section simply permits such release under defined procedures.
- where University employees having a legitimate educational interest request access to records, no written record of the request will be made
- parents are considered third parties and are subject to the requirements of this section
- records may be released to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or others, provided the official releasing the records considers the seriousness of the threat to health and safety, the need for the information to meet the emergency, whether the third parties to whom the information is released are in a position to deal with the emergency, and the extent to which time is of the essence
- when students intend to transfer to another educational institution, the student must be notified that records have been released to another institution even though the student initiates the request for release
Notification of Rights
Students will be informed by their rights under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 by publication of these University guidelines on the Graduate School web site.
Assurance of Compliance
All applications made by departments of offices of the University for Federal grants, loans or contracts will include an assurance of compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
List of official education records maintained:
TYPE OF INDIVIDUAL
RECORD LOCATION RESPONSIBLE
- Academic records related correspondence -- Student's Academic Dean's Academic and Office of Enrollment Services
- Conduct records -- Office of Student Life Director
- Health records -- Student Health Services Director
- Counseling records -- Counseling Center Director
- Career planning records -- Career Services Director
- Financial aid records -- Student Financial Aid Director
- Veteran's records -- Office of Enrollment Services
- International student records -- International Students & Scholars
- Talent Development student records -- SPTD Office Director
- Tuition, fees and debts to Enrollment Services records -- Office of Enrollment Services
- Athletic records -- Athletic Department Director
- Meal book and dining records -- Dining Services Office Director
- Residence hall records -- Office of Residential Life Director
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