FERPA for Staff
Who can release student information?
An institution may disclose personally identifiable information without the student's written consent to "school officials" whom the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest."
Obligation to Release Record Information
An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only says that an institution MAY release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information.
The privacy rights of an individual expire with that individual's death. Records held by an institution for a deceased person is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. The Registrar's Office in conjunction with the Office of the General Counsel will exercise its own discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, information should be disclosed to survivors or third parties.
FERPA does not preclude an institution from identifying students as "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" for specific purposes. The same requirements and responsibilities for a full time school official exist for student workers. The student workers must be trained on FERPA just as if they were faculty or staff.
Students have the right to inspect the contents of their student folder, regardless of their financial status with the institution. However, an institution is NOT REQUIRED to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.
At Caltech, all subpoenas are first reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel to determine the appropriate course of action.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors to be considered or questions to be asked in making a decision to release such information in these situations are: (1) the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; (2) the need for the information; (3) the time required to deal with the emergency; (4) the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.
Please contact the Office of the Registrar with general questions, comments or suggestions.