The University of South Alabama maintains records and data relative to the individual student to facilitate the educational process of the student and to assist in the administration of students’ needs by the University. The University of South Alabama complies with the rights of privacy and access to the education records of the student as set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The University of South Alabama has formulated the following policies and procedures in accordance with the Act:
I. General Policy
No information from records, files, or data, directly related to a student, shall be disclosed or released to any individual or agency outside the University without the prior written consent of the student, except in accordance with lawful subpoena or court order, or except in the case of need by other educational agencies or governmental agencies. Such information will be available to personnel and faculty for legitimate educational purposes. The student shall have the right of access to and review of all such information with those exceptions that are defined within this policy statement.
Il. Definition of Student
Under the University policy of student records, a student is defined as an individual who is attending or has attended the University of South Alabama. It does not include applicants for admission or prospective students.
Ill. Definition of Education Records
The University recognizes that education records are any records, files, documents, memoranda, notes or other material containing information directly related to a student that are maintained by the University of South Alabama. Personal notes, which are in the sole possession of the individual faculty or staff member who has made the notes and which are not revealed to other individuals, are specifically excluded under the Act from the definition of education records. Records that are used only for treatment purposes and that are created by physicians, psychiatrists, or other similar professionals or para-professionals, are specifically excluded from the definition of education records under the Act; however, such records are available for review by another physician or appropriate professional of the student’s choice if requested. Other records excluded are law enforcement unit records, employment records and alumni records of unenrolled students.
IV. Public Information
The Act provides that a university regularly and routinely may release information, defined as public information or directory information, to individuals and agencies outside the university. The following types of information are routinely and regularly released and disclosed by the University of South Alabama as public information: student’s name, address, telephone listing, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, and, to honorary societies affiliated with the University, the cumulative grade-point average of a student who is being considered for eligibility in same.
Public information will not be released, upon a request made by the student to the appropriate records officer at the University, as “records officer” is defined in the University policy regarding student records. To request non-disclosure of directory information, students must complete a "Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information" form in the Registrar's Office. This request is valid until the student rescinds the request of nondisclosure.
V. Record Retention Location
The following University officials are designated as those individuals who have responsibility for student records within their respective areas: (1) the Associate Dean of the particular college in which the individual student is enrolled; (2) the Vice President of Student Services, for all other records pertaining to students, excluding the College of Medicine, (3) the Director of Career Services relative to student records maintained in that office, (4) the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Medicine; (5) the Veterans Affairs Specialist relative to student records obtained in that office; and (6) the University Registrar for official academic records or transcripts.
Within the context of this policy relative to student records, these individuals designated as a record official will maintain a listing of those student records within such record officials’ responsibility indicating the location and general content of the records. Any request made by the student relative to review of or disclosure of the student records, including requests that public information not be disclosed, requests for disclosure to third parties, and requests for access by the student should be directed to the particular official. The only exception to this policy is when the student requests an official transcript from the University to be sent to a third party, that request should be directed to the Office of Registrar. When the content of a record is challenged under these procedures, the record official will be the hearing officer for that area of records over which he or she has responsibility.
Vl. Right of Access and Review By Student Of Their Record
A student has a right of access to any education record which is maintained by the University and which is directly related to that student. The right of access to education records includes the right to inspect, review, and see education records; the right to obtain copies of education records (the cost of copying to be assessed to the student); and the right of hearing in the event that the student wishes to challenge the accuracy or appropriateness of the record. In order for the student to inspect a file or document maintained as an education record the student should make this request in the office of the appropriate records official; the request must be initiated in writing on the forms maintained by the record official. In the event that the student cannot personally appear for such requests, the student may request a form through the record official in writing and that form must be returned to the record official notarized. The request for inspection will be granted within forty-five (45) days after the date of the request. The Act specifically excludes from review by the student the following types of education records: financial records or any information contained within the financial records of parents of the student; any confidential letters or statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records of the student prior to January 1, 1975, and which are used only for purposes for which intended letters of recommendation associated with admission to educational institutions, application for employment, and receipt of honor or recognition, if the student has signed a waiver of rights of access to said records of recommendation. Nondisclosure of such records to the student also applies to those items excluded from the definition of education records since those documents are not considered to be education records as defined under the Act.
Vll. The Student’s Right to Challenge the Content of the Education Record
The University of South Alabama recognizes that the student, after reviewing the education record, has a right to challenge the content of that record, relative to the possibility of the record being misleading, inaccurate or inappropriate. However, under the Act, a student does not have a right to challenge the numerical or letter grade given by the instructor.
If a student wishes to challenge a record, the student should make that request for challenge of the record known to the record official. The student will be required to complete a form in which the student requests that a hearing be held, challenging the education record, and specifying on the form the nature of the challenge, that is whether the record is misleading, inaccurate, inappropriate, etc. The record official will act as the hearing officer in all matters pertaining to the content of the record. The record official will attempt to resolve the challenge by informal method. Following that the record is inaccurate, misleading, inappropriate, etc., the record official, acting as hearing officer, will designate a date, time, and place for the hearing. The hearing will be held within a reasonable period of time following the request to the record officer. The student will have an opportunity to present evidence relative to their challenge. The record official will have the right to inspect the education record relative to the content of that record, will have a right to request evidence from the student and from the maker of the education record or that portion which is challenged. The record official may decide that the record should be retained in its present state, that the record should be altered, that an explanatory comment by the student should be entered in the record although the record is accurate and appropriate and not misleading. A decision of the record official, acting as a hearing officer will be returned to the student within ten (10) University working days following the conclusion of the hearing. A student has the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office.
Vlll. Waiver of Student Right to Review And Inspect Education Records
The University of South Alabama, pursuant to the Act, provides for waivers of the following education records: letters or statements of recommendation associated with application, admission, receipt of honors or other recognition. The University of South Alabama retains the right to request such waivers of students and prospective applicants. If a student receives a request for waiver, the student may either sign and return the waiver, or may request a list of the names of the individuals who will be contacted for recommendations before signing the request, or may refuse to waive the right of access.
A WAIVER SHALL NEVER BE A CONDITION OF ADMISSION, FINANCIAL AID, OR OTHER BENEFIT BY THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA.
IX. Releasing Education Records to Third Parties
It is the general policy of the University of South Alabama that the University does not release education records or information relating to a student, to individuals or agencies outside of the University of South Alabama. However, the student may request the release of education records to individuals or agencies outside of the University of South Alabama. In the event that the individual does so request such education record to be released, a written request from the student must be directed to the proper records official, specifying the records to be released, the reason for the release, the person to whom records are to be released and a request of copies of the records that are released to the student if the student so desires. The student has the responsibility of sending a statement to the University, signed by the party who is receiving the information, that the information that is granted to the third party will not be transferred to other individuals or agencies without the student’s prior consent. These stipulations must be met prior to release of educational records by the University of South Alabama. The University of South Alabama following this request will grant access or will release the education record to the third party. Any cost of expenses of copying or reproducing education records will be assessed against the student so requesting. Student records will be released to certain designated classes of individuals, agencies, or institutions, which include the following and which are in accordance with the Act.
1. Any University official, including members of the faculty and staff, who have a legitimate educational interest.
X. This policy statement is subject to change and revision as the experience with the law and institutional policy change.
2. Officials of institutions in which the student submits his or her desire to enroll. The student will be notified of the transfer of this information and will be sent a copy of the record, if the student requests, and will be granted an opportunity to challenge the content of the record, if the student requests.
3. Certain representatives of Federal departments or agencies or State educational authorities for purposes of audits, evaluative studies, etc. The data that will be collected by these agencies will be protected in a way which prevents personal identification except when specifically authorized by Federal law. Also the information will be destroyed once it is no longer needed.
4. Financial Aid Officers.
5. Accrediting organizations.
6. Organizations conducting studies for administrative evaluation tests, etc.
7. Parents of students who are considered to be dependents under the Internal Revenue Code for Federal Income Tax purposes.
8. In accordance with judicial orders of lawfully issued subpoenas.
9. Appropriate individuals, agencies, and institutions in case of an emergency or to protect the health or safety of the student or others.
For all of the above requests, excluding number 1, the following information will be placed in the education record of the student: a record of request for access, the legitimate interest involved, and action taken relative to the request.
Xl. Questions regarding this policy or the Act may be referred to the Office of University Attorney, Administration Building, Room 131, (251-460-6294).