An academic dilemma: Student records, faculty access, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Fry, Bobbye G.
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University administrative officers responsible for the recruitment, matriculation, and graduation of students collect a vast array of documents and data supportive of the speciflc needs of the university. These documents facilitate the attainment of credits by students toward the conferral of a degree. Faculty conducting research or advising students seek access to these records. A conflict arises due to the enforcement of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Also known as the Buckley Amendment or the Privacy Act, FERPA was passed by Congress in 1974 to restrict the release or disclosure of student educational records in either paper or electronic formats. Although FERPA covers student records from pre-kindergarten through ail levels of higher education, this study only addresses FERPA at the post-secondary level. The three-fold purpose of this study begins with the investigation of the requests to records offlces by university faculty for access to students' academic records. Next, this study examines the procedures for granting faculty access to students' educational records. Fînally, this study investigates the disciplinary procedures invoked at the post-secondary level when FERPA policies and procedures are breached. These purposes are accomplished by investigating, through a survey of the university and college profession of records administrators, what access to the student records is requested, how and by whom access is determined permissible, how training on FERPA is provided, and what actions are taken when FERPA policies are breached.